PALAZZO SPINI FERONI
Among the most beautiful historical palaces in Florence in Via Tornabuoni, it was built by the powerful Spini family just like a fortress in the 13th century. At the beginning, the building passed through Via Lungo l'Arno ending at the river with a sturdy embattled tower. In 1427 it was divided up among the various branches of the family, who were only partial owners, until the settlement of the same in 1686. Later, other property was acquired by the Marchesi Feroni.
IN 1822 TO MAKE LUNGARNO MORE ACCESSIBLE,
the embattled tower and the arch that was called “pinches” were knocked down. On the corner of Palazzo Feroni, there was the Caffè dell'Arco (so-called in honour of the arch of Santa Trinità), which was the elegant meeting-place of the City, particularly for the “carraiges drawn by horses” that came from their promenades at the Cascine, (this privilege would later pass to the Caffè Doney). When the weather was good, the Caffè dell'Arco would put out tables on both Lungarno and Via Tornabuoni.
At the foot of the building, there was the famous bench of the Spini “the everlasting home of the attractive young people”, but also of other older and important characters. With regard to this, the anonymous Gaddiano tells us about an event in which Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti were the protagonists. - Lionardo was passing by the Spini bench where there was a group of respectable men who were discussing one of Dante's verses. They called Lionardo over saying that they wanted him to explain the verse to them. And by chance, Miche agnolo passed by and called by one of them, Lionardo answered: Michele Agnolo, he will tell you. It seemed to Michele Agnolo that they had said this to mock him, so he answered angrily: - Declare it for yourself, if you made a drawing of a horse to cast it in bronze, and if you could not cast it and out of shame you let it go. Having said this, he turned his back and went away. Lionardo, who was left there, turned red on hearing these words. Priceless was that Spini bench to be a witness to such an event. No one has dedicated a memorial tablet to you?
THIS BENCH CALLED THE “BENCH OF THE ROAD”,
was eliminated in 1800 and partially brought back into use in the last century.
At the time, Palazzo Spini was the largest among the Florentine palaces, the only one that could compete with Palazzo Vecchio that was built in the same years. The architects who probably partecipated in building it were Arnolfo di Cambio and Lapo del Tedesco, but information from this period is very sporadic. You can see how it originally looked in Domenico Ghirlandaio's frescos in the Sassetti Chapel in the Santa Trinità Church in the scene of the miracle of the young boy brought back to life thanks to the intercession of San Francesco.
Today, Palazzo Spini Feroni remains one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Florence, even though its present appearance is partially due to restoration carried out in 1874 that has preserved its strong aspect resembling a defensive blockhouse which was typical of the time period of its foundation. The stone facing and the finishing touch with flat-topped battlements suggest that it was a small fort to guard the Santa Trinità Bridge.
IN THE UNDERGROUND AREA WHERE THE FERRAGAMO MUSEUM IS LOCATED TODAY,
there is an antique well of the Spini family which was used to draw water directly from their own home. This well is called Beatrice's Well as a homage to Beatrice Portinari who is said to have met Dante for the first time right next to the Santa Trinità Bridge.
Inside the palace, there is still a private chapel with frescos of Bernardino Poccetti from 1612 which represent Paradise, musician angels and the adoration of the Shepherds. These frescos were taken off and transferred to the present chapel from another chapel during renovation in 1700. The architect Lorenzo Merlini, who was responsible for this removal, framed the frescos with stucco and gold gilding.
In the entrance hall, where the shops on the street were once located, there is a sculpture in high relief by Giuseppe Piamonti from 1705 which represents “the thundering giants of Jupiter”.
From 1846 to 1872 the palace housed Hotel Europe which hosted distinguished guests such as the Prince of Metternich and Nicola I, Czar of all of Russia who as head of the Russian Church, sanctioned in this place, the separation between the Russo-Florentine nabob Nicola Demidoff and his wife Matilde Bonaparte as the Municipality of Florence had its residence in Palazzo Spini Feroni until 1881 while it was waiting for the restoration of Palazzo Vecchio.
FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD IT ALSO HOUSED THE
after that of Palazzo Strozzi. In 1938 the palace was bought by Salvatore Ferragamo, the present owner, for his home office and the main boutique for his shoe designing business.
The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum was opened in the palace in 1995.