The success of Via De'Tornabuoni is that it is never overwhelmed by its long history or its glorious past, but continues to live solidly rooted in the present.
THE MOST FAMOUS STREET WITH THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS IN ALL THE HISTORICAL CENTRE OF FLORENCE REACHED ITS GLORY IN THE EPOCH OF CARRAIGES,
but memories of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages are not its only merit.
The original name of the street, Via de' Lignaiuoli, was due to the presence of the wood-maker shops, which were forced by the nobility to move to the other side of the Arno (the Oltrano) to give luster to the street.
Later on, Via de' Tornabuoni, which is right in the middle of the historical centre of Florence, became a paradise for the carraiges that passed over the Santa Trinità Bridge coming from their promenades at the Cascine. Due to its width, it was also used for military parades, public meetings, festivals, competition and even for horse tournaments like that of the saracino or the game of the ring.
VIA DE'TORNABUONI OWES ITS GLORY TO THE SANTA
TRINITA' BRIDGE WHICH LINKED THE CITY TO THE
OTHER SIDE OF THE ARNO, (THE OLTRANO)
This medieval bridge was built from wood in 1252, with the aid of the Frescobaldi family, but in 1259, it collapsed under the weight of the crowd that was watching a show on the Arno. It was rebuilt in stone but once again destroyed by the deluge of 1333. The reconstruction that followed was very slow and lasted almost sixty years, from 1356 to 1415. In 1557 it was destroyed again by the overflow of the Arno, then rebuilt in 1566 by Bartolomeo Ammannati who was commissioned by Cosimo I and given support by the elderly Michelangelo who suggested the idea of the modern line of the three arches, referring back to his studies which had already been put into practice in the tombs of the Medici Chapels and in the staircase of the vestibule of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana. This curved line was an innovation anticipating the Baroque style. Construction ended in 1571.
IT WAS A “BRIDGE OF HONOUR”, BEAUTIFUL, PRACTICAL, MONUMENTAL AND DECORATIVE.
In 1608 it was enriched on the occassion of the marriage of Cosimo II to Maria Maddelena d'Austria with the addition of four allegorical angular statues: Spring by Pietro Francavilla, Summer and Autumn by Giovanni Caccini and Winter by Taddeo Landini.
On 4 August 1944, it was destroyed by the Germans during their withdrawal. Using the idea of the Florentine anti quarian Luigi Bellini, a committee called “How it Was and Where it Was” was set up for its reconstruction in order to restore it to Florence. In 1952 the architect Riccardo Gizdulich was called to direct the reconstruction work together with Engineer Emilio Brizzi. The bridge, completely rebuilt faithfully to the antique original, was inaugurated on 16 May 1958 and the statues of the four seasons, found in the meantime in the Arno River, were put back into place ( the head from the statue of Spring was only found in 1961 by the sand-diggers who were dredging the river. The same antiquarian Bellini put up a notice promising a reward of $5,000 for the recovery of the head).
Past the bridge, in the widening at the beginning of Via Tornabuoni, called Piazza Santa Trinità in honour of the church of the same name and situated in front of Palazzo Spini, is the place where Cosimo I chose to put the Column of Justice. This enormous monolithic shaft from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome was donated to Cosimo I by Pope Pius IV in 1560. The column, which is 11.17 metres tall and weighs 50 tons, was erected in this square exactly in the spot in which the Medici had received notice of the victory carried out over Siena at Scarmagallo (near Marciano) in 1554 against the resistance of the exiled Florentines commanded by Pietro Strozzi. In 1581 the statue of Justice was placed on the capital of the column. Made of very hard porphyry, it was created by Francesco Ferrucci called il Tadda.
It took the sculptor eleven years to complete the statue. It is made up of five assembled parts, whose junction point is hidden by a bronze cloak.