Palace of the Podestà
BORGO SAN LORENZO – The medieval Palazzo del Podestà, which now houses the municipal library, probably dates back to the mid-thirteenth century, and was originally the seat of political authority (precisely the Podestà) sent from Florence every six months. Over the centuries the building had known several interventions that had altered its appearance. Already at the beginning of the last century the building appeared in precarious conditions, conditions that worsened further during the disastrous earthquake of the 29th of June, 1919. The Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, then presided over by the general Guglielmo Pecori Giraldi, satisfied the need to intervene with a restoration, with substantial funding.
The restoration work (1934-1937), designed and directed by the engineer Augusto Lorini, effectively changed the appearance of the building, redefining it according to the neo-medieval and purist style of the period and regularising its lines. The gabled façade has two large openings on the ground floor, while the upper floor is characterised by four perfectly symmetrical curved windows. On the right there is a large room that constitutes a chapel dedicated to St. Francis, made in memory of the passage of the saint from Assisi by Borgo as well as his sermon held in the square in front of the building. The façade is dotted with coats of arms, in Robbian majolica, terracotta and stone, of some of the podestàs that have governed the town, all dating back to the XV and XVII centuries. Other coats of arms and inscriptions are located inside the chapel of St. Francis, where a stone basin was recovered in a nearby excavation that probably constituted a burial dating to the early Middle Ages. On the door that connects the chapel to the adjoining entrance hall a lunette was placed, dating back to the first quarter of the sixteenth century and depicting the Bust of Christ between two angels; it is possible to connect this piece to the workshop of Andrea della Robbia. Inside the entrance hall, characterised by a beautiful vaulted ceiling, there are more coat of arms representing the various podestà, many of which are painted and restored by Dino Chini (probably under the supervision of Galileo Chini) on the occasion of the aforementioned twentieth-century restoration. On the western wall of the hall, at the entrance of the staircase leading to the upper floor, stands a beautiful fresco. This is the Madonna and Child between the Saints Lorenzo and Giovanni Battista, of an unknown Florentine painter, commissioned, as an inscription in Latin states, by Alessandro Carlo Altoviti in 1547 most likely on the occasion of his stay in Borgo as Podestà. The painting, recently restored but not in a good state of preservation, shows an interesting work by an unknown Florentine painter who was active, apparently, around the middle of the sixteenth century. At the top of the stone staircase leading to the upper floor was a detached fresco, depicting the Annunciation, coming from a street tabernacle in Borgo San Lorenzo and the work of an anonymous painter of the mid-eighteenth century.
Interior and external photos