History of Casa del Garbo

Vista della casa del Garbo da Piazza della Signoria

Casa del Garbo stands in the heart of Florence, part of the historical architectural backdrop of Piazza della Signoria, directly facing the Palazzo Vecchio.

The property is part of the Uguccioni Palace. Since the 16th century it used to host a convent: the Monache degli Angeli, who added to the building the 17th century Annunciation tabernacle ascribed to Matteo Rosselli.

 

 

The Building

Palazzo Uguccioni

Palazzo Uguccioni, Firenze

The Renaissance complex “Uguccioni Palace” includes – in addition to the properly called palace, ascribed to Raffaello and his pupils, and home of the noble Uguccioni family until a few years ago – other constructions of high architectural value. The building portion at the corner between the Piazza della Signoria and via dei Magazzini is called “Casa del Garbo”. The sandstone facade  of the main building exhibits three architectural orders: the groundfloor with faceted ashlars is doric; the upper stores, with tall windows separated by paired columns, are ionic and corinthian. A marble bust of Francesco I, by Giovanni Bandini, and the coat of arms of the Uguccioni family, with three cornflowers conceded by the French king, embellish the palace front.

 

The Convent

Monastero del Garbo, Firenze

This ancient nuns’ convent is actually structured in such a way that it looks like a private residence. The Del Garbo monastery, an asylum for single women like many others in the town, overlooks a square with several stratifications and important architectonic structures. From the windows that look out over Piazza della Signoria the palazzo ‘dell’Arte dei Mercanti’ can be admired, next to the old palazzo belonging to the old famiglia Gondi, many members of which became archbishops of Paris. On the right there is ‘palazzo Uguccioni’ with its beautiful façade of the Raphael school (sixteenth century) and opposite stands the equestrian statue of Cosimo I, Duke of Florence, which symbolically commemorates his rise to power and rule of the state in 1537. The Palazzo della Signoria, also called ‘Palazzo Vecchi0’, with the soaring elegance of the splendid Arnolfo tower represents the trait-d’union between old and new, or rather the republican past with that of the principality inaugurated with Cosimo I. The Loggia dei Lanzi houses the statues by Cellini and Giambologna (Perseus and the Rape of the Sabine Women) and defines the view of the square towards the flight of porticos and buildings of the so-called “Uffizi” created by Giorgio Vasari to house the government magistracies and offices.

Thus, right in front of the del Garbo residence opens up a concentrated blend of symbols closely tied in with political change in Florence. In the midst of a timeless peaceful setting combined with the modern-day elegance of the ex-convent it is possible to breathe a little of the great history of Florence and see what goes on every day in the square among the passers-by, among the restaurant tables, around the museums and Palazzo Vecchio itself, house to the offices of the town council, in a scenario which now embraces a multi-ethnic society. The Casa del Garbo and the town of Florence openly welcome and accompany their guests on this voyage of discovery of culture and daily life.