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Live chronicles. The history of the “Canti Fiorentini”

The “Canti Fiorentini”, the Italian name for a series of narrow and historic Florentine streets, were layed out in Florence before 1300, and are a sort of ancestor of the present existing street system. Large and important families often gave their name to the streets near their family’s tower, porch, or palace. Sometimes the name originated from a particular event worthy of recognition, and as such, lends a characteristic note to the place it designated. This nomenclature allows one to retrace the historical facts and curiosities contained in their particular denomination, and therefore, looking at the names of the “canti fiorentini” can be a way of understanding Florence better by uniting the charm derived from the archaic nature of the names and the memories attached to them, with the vivacity of a live chronicle. In fact, each name reveals a close relationship with the diverse components that characterize the Florentine environment. Streets like “dei Soldani“ or “dei Cerchi“, recall the prestige and power of political factions; other streets, like  “del Saggio“ or “del Proconsolo“, were the administrative reality of the city; the religious sphere is recalled with the streets “dei Preti“ and “della Badessa“; the memory of the market is suggested, for example, with the street “alla Paglia“; Florentine extravaganza is imprinted in the name of the street “alle Mosche“; an idea of ​​character ready for anger, or easily pacified is suggested by the streets “alla Briga“ and “alla Pace“, and so on. A variety of names that reflect an inevitable and spontaneous process that is rooted in history and in the deep structures of city life.

Today, few still make use of this nomenclature, and one senses that something beyond a name has been lost in the definitive abandonment of the use of the names of the “Canti“ which have always determined the character of city’s history. With the widening of the walls, there was less of the feeling of privacy and confidentiality that had accompanied the daily life of the residents for centuries. There was less familiarity among the people, with their surroundings and with the institutions, which had previosly allowed and fostered mutual respect. As one moves further away from the centre, there are fewer and fewer "Canti battezzati" (baptised streets), which emphasizes the loss of this close and confidential dimension of the relationship between citizens. After all, this naming of corners of the city, also represented a form of affection for the places attended daily, witnesses of happy and fun memories of public and private events. In short, it was similar to calling someone by name or even more lightly with a nickname rather than more seriously by their correct last name.

The Scali family, which belonged to the first circle, made its greatest fortune around the 9th century. A member of the family, Giorgio Scali, took a firm position in favor of the Ciompi family, and was then later decapitated by the same because he was suspected of treason. At the beginning of the 15th century, the family began a decline that forced them to sell all their possessions. Filippo Strozzi bought some of their houses to make room for his own palace, and the palace in Piazza S. Trinita also changed ownership in this way. It still belonged to the Scali family around 1498, when Francesco Scali declared that he owned an old and "very historic" palace, with evident reference to the palace on the corner of Via delle Terme. This Palace, after being passed on to the Del Bene family and the Cambi family, was sold in 1517 to Leonardo and Lorenzo Buondelmonti, who made it their home and reduced it to its present form. In this same palace, Ludovico Ariosto resided as a guest of the Buondelmonti family many times

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