Terra di Toscana www.terraditoscana.com


Without going back as far as the Etruscans, one could say that apart from the numerous testimonies of Medieval castles and extremely ancient churches, the urban architecture of Toscana began in the 1200s with the construction of the tower-houses, more like fortresses than private residences. With the economic prosperity of the region, taste changed, in the following century the city became rich with Nobles' houses, the stone buildings became more elegant and extended horizontally. In the 1400s other than the construction of ever more refined genteel buildings there was also the necessity to construct more solid housing for the poorer people, to prevent the frequent fires which destroyed the wooden shanties. At this point the 1500s saw an ideal architectural organisation for the urban setting, and it was in this century that not only the Nobility but also the rich middle classes who built their own houses, instructing able and refined architects like Simone del Pollaiolo, Buontalenti and Giambologna. At the end of this century several new trends appeared, among which was the balcony. The 1600s brought the Baroque opulence, best expressed in religious architecture. The end of the 1700 coincided with the construction of elegant bourgeois detached houses on the outskirts of the city and cleaner lined buildings and churches. The most radical urban transformation, especially in Firenze, was in the 1800s, when old houses were knocked down to make way for imposing buildings worthy of the new born Capital of Italy, often designed by Baccani and Poggi. Lastly the 1900s opened with the decorative “art nouveau”, of which we have notable examples of buildings in Versilia and Montecatini. Unfortunately the “great war” destroyed many, and after 1950 there was a rapid reconstruction of the city, simplifying the architecture of the buildings, thereby officially affirming the social function of the architect, less artist, more technician. We Toscani should remember the architect Giovanni Michelucci (1891-1991) born in Pisa but Fiorentino by adoption, well known in all the world, who in his very long life had projected, especially in Toscana, numerous public, private and religious works, adapted to the life and living space of man.


Illustration by Olga Bruno

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