The lost historic centre
Anyone becoming familiar with the history of Florence can't help but read about
the loss of the old historic centre, comprising the Old Market and the Old
Ghetto, in the late 19th century - it's one of the
big events in the city's history and, along with WWII and the flood, one of the
few such events in recent centuries. I've read about it often, but until recently
it was just the sad fact that explained the boring modernity of the Piazza della
Repubblica. Now with the finding of two books, both in Italian, I'm
beginning to appreciate just what was lost, and how big an area was levelled -
the four corners of the area roughly being the Duomo, the Piazza della Signoria,
Palazzo Strozzi and Santa Maria Maggiore.
Cento anni fa
by Piero Bargellini
The first book I found, picked up in a bookshop in Florence, is a
collection of photos of old Florence, with a few photos of the lost
centre to whet one's appetite for...
Immagini dell'antico centro scomparso
by Maria Sframeli
Which I found in the London Library and just had to own - I got it
for €35.70 from Amazon.it. It's full of fine and heartbreaking
photographs of what was lost, and includes a map showing where each
photograph was taken.
The excuse of slum-clearance was used, as
ever, and there may be some truth in this. But leaving aside such
unromantic considerations for a minute, let's wallow.
That's an edge of Orsanmichele to the right
The views of the old market square that you always
The church of Santa Maria degli Ughi (above) was
as was Sant'Andrea (below).
The Palazzo dell'Arte della Lana is in the background above
and to the right below.
And to finish, views of the buildings which
the Nazis blew up as they retreated in 1944 on
either side of the Ponte Vecchio, after and before.
And a similar view from an old postcard, but away from the Ponte Vecchio.
Bridge building in 1957.
Florence // London