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There are some extremely fine examples of Art Nouveau in Florence,


above all in the 19th-century area of the city beyond the inner ring road of avenues conceived by Poggi. Here, in wave of urban expansion prompted by the brief but intense period when Florence was the capital of Italy, the Florentine exponents of this style (chief amongst which was the architect Giovanni Michelazzi) adopted it for the private homes of the affluent middle classes.

il villino broggi caraceni

Some examples of Liberty-style work can also be seen in the historic city centre, and are a familiar sight for tourists despite their eagerness to soak up the Renaissance views.
We can start our itinerary, then, with the Magazzini Pola e Todescan building (Via Brunelleschi, on the corner with Via de’ Pecori), the first genuine Liberty-style building in the city, erected in 1903.
Nearby there is also house-gallery nestling between the palaces of Borgo Ognissanti (n°26). From here we cut across the Renaissance city to reach the first major building in this style, which is in Piazza d’Azeglio (n°. 39).
 
Here, the solid façade of Villino Uzielli is offset by intricate decorative motifs (which also reveal eclectic stylistic elements).
A short stroll takes us out of the old Porta alla Croce, now Piazza Beccaria, and it is in this area that there are the greatest number of Liberty-style bourgeois villas.
A rich and original variety of decorative elements were worked into and influenced the traditional architectural volumes; not infrequently this created strong tensions in the structural lines, with sometimes eccentrically stagey results.
There are particularly significant examples in via Scipione Ammirato, where there is Villino Brogi Caraceni (n°. 99) and Villino Ravazzini (n°. 101). In Via Orcagna, the balcony façade and gate of casa Antonini (n°. 53) offer original examples of decorative taste.
In the parallel Via del Ghirlandaio, at n°. 52 (built between 1909 and 1914), the façade of the studio home of Galileo Chini, one of the greatest Italian exponents of the movement, shows traces of Klimt-style decoration, two high reliefs and other interesting ornamental motifs.
Moving on to the area between the station of Campo di Marte and Piazzale Donatello, we find some fine examples of residential buildings, such as the small palaces in Via Nardi (n°. 1/3, 15 and 27); Viale Mazzini, n° 32-36). Villino Ciuti (Via della Robbia n°. 74) has neo-Gothic leanings, Villino Baroncelli (Via Duprè, n°. 75, not far from the football stadium)
Is more Byzantine in style, while Studio Carnielo (Piazza Savonarola, n°. 14) reveals an evident neo-classical and “rebel” influence. These buildings are more in line with the trend towards eclecticism (which also included a neo Renaissance “revival”) that preceded and accompanied the spread of the Liberty style proper. Moving now to what was historically another outlying area of city, we can admire the splendid wrought-iron decorative work of villiono Lampredi (via Giano della Bella, n°. 9-13, parallel to Viale Petrarca and not far from Porta Romana), and other examples in the area towards Poggio Imperiale.
 
If you are really bowled over by the beauties of the Liberty style, you can always go to Borgo San Lorenzo – slightly further afield but well worth the visit , following in the footsteps of Galileo Chini. The furniture and the ceramic, stained glass and wrought-iron work of the Manifattura Fornaci in San Lorenzo can be found all over the world, and he made his mark (apart from in the various buildings in Florence described above) in many local private houses, such as Villino Chini, Villa Pecori Giraldi, the small villas in Viale della Repubblica, and also in local religious and public buildings.

 

Published: 22/1/2014
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