Lungarno Vespucci is the Florentine road between Ponte alla Carraia (Piazza Goldoni) and Ponte alla Vittoria (Piazza Vittoria Veneto, located along the Viali di Circonvallazione). This road, today much requested and appreciated, didn’t exist at all up until 1853. In those years, the city was ruled by Leopold II of Tuscany and was undergoing a radical transformation which would reach its apex between 1865 and 1895 (the so-called Risanamento) when the capital of Italy was moved to Florence from Turin.
Ample sectors of the city, often dating back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, were demolished to make space for new buildings and the so-created road was baptized Lungarno Nuovo. In 1857 the city decided to entitle the road to the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, whose family was well-known in the neighborhood of Ognissanti.
Nowadays, Lungarno Vespucci is home to beautiful 19th-century palazzo, many of which converted into prestigious hotels (Bristol, Firenze, Washington, La Pace, Grand Hotel), Palazzo Calcagnini (now office of the United States Consulate) and Villa Favard (a notable example of the Florentine residential architecture designed in 1857 by the architect Giuseppe Poggi).
The first exponents of the Vespucci family settled in Florence from the 13th century and quickly became respected bankers. The family residence was in Borgo Ognissanti and many of the buildings in the area still bears traces of the Vespucci family: the Chiesa di Ognissanti (and particularly the family chapel) was embellished by Ghirlandaio and the Ospedale Vecchio di San Giovanni di Dio was built and started with funds donated by the Vespucci family.
From one of the family branches was born Amerigo (1454), son of Anastasio Vespucci and Elisabetta Mini. Being a sea-lover and a traveler, in 1489 Amerigo moved to Spain where he met Christopher Columbus before joining Alonso de Ojeda. The latter had received the task to explore the southern shores of the “India” previously reached by Columbus. During these travels, however, Vespucci noticed a few inconsistencies with the data registered by Columbus: these lands were in fact much ampler than anticipated (they stretched well beyond the 50° South latitude of India). In a letter to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici (written between 1501 and 1502) Vespucci wrote: “Our ancestors had no knowledge of these lands […] since most of them thought there was no continent over the equinoctial line towards the South, but only the sea they called Atlantic; and those who accepted a continent […] denied the possibility that such a land could be populated. But my last travel disproves this opinion of theirs […] since there I found a continent inhabited by animals and peoples, far more numerous than those I found in Europe, Asia or Africa and a much milder and pleasant climate than in any other known region”.
Because of these intuitions, geographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann decided to baptize the New World with the Latinized name of the Italian explorer: Americus from which America.
Vespucci, by now a Spanish citizen tout-court, casted aside his love for the sea to live with his wife Maria Cerezo until his death in 1512.
Florence, where Vespucci only lived before becoming famous for his discovery, decided to dedicate the new Lungarno inaugurated in 1853 to the great explorer.
Right on Lungarno Vespucci we find this beautiful luxury apartment, finely restored by the owners without losing or distorting its main features. It is an ideal property for anyone looking for a luxury private residence in the historic centre of Florence with a balcony overlooking the Arno river. Ideally, given its layout on a single floor, the apartment could be converted into an office, thanks to its refined finishes and the ample rooms it boasts.
The palazzo, with its 19th-century look, boasts five floors, each marked by a series of five windows. The apartment is set on the first floor and is recognizable by the ample tympaned windows and the balcony right at the center of the façade.
Entering the apartment we are in an ample hallway, interrupted by two molded arches and brightly lit by led spotlights. From here, one can reach all the main rooms of the residence, located on the two sides of the corridor.
The first door to the right leads into the beautiful master bedroom. The room still houses the original marble fireplace and a huge window, placed right in front of the entrance door, allows a great deal of light to enter the bedroom.
In the right side of the bedroom there are a walk-in closet and a refined en-suite bathroom with double basin and a bathtub crafted from a wonderful gold-veined black marble.
The second and third door, still on the right side of the corridor, leads both into the main hall. Here we can admire a beautiful wooden coffered ceiling. Right in front of the entrance door are the three huge windows, one of which leading out to the panoramic balcony overlooking the Arno river. Between the two entrance door is located a marble fireplace (similar in style to the one in the master bedroom) with a huge mirror on top. Two doors on the two sides of the room lead to the master bedroom (right) and the studio (left).
The fourth and last door on the right leads into a finely-crafted studio with built-in libraries and an intriguing corner-bar (which can be hidden inside the wall when not in use). The ceiling is decorated by a beautiful painting and there is another marble fireplace in the room.
On the left side of the corridor are located the dining room (accessed via two doors) and the kitchen, set at the end of a secondary corridor branching off the main hallway right in front of the master bedroom. The kitchen, in particular, was fitted with a secondary access door which allowed the staff to enter the kitchen without stepping through the master quarters. The door is nowadays closed and can’t be seen from inside the apartment, but one can always re-open it.
At the end of the main hallway we enter a passage room, well-lit by an ample window and decorated with a finely-crafted trompe-l’œil simulating a terrace with a metal railway overlooking the historic centre of Florence, where several monuments such as Santa Maria del Fiore, Palazzo Vecchio and Santa Croce are clearly recognizable. Trees, bushes and birds contribute in creating the illusion of being in an outdoor space. The secondary purpose of the decoration is hiding two pocket doors, whose contours are barely visible below the paint. The first door leads into a small toilet, finely decorated with the same black-and-gold marble from the master bathroom and painted architectures. The second door, instead, opens up into the secondary wing of the apartment which could be easily used to accommodate guests or as a staff quarter.
Just behind the door, on the left, is located a double bedroom with en-suite bathroom finely crafted from white Carrara marble and green marble, a combination which recalls the typical color juxtaposition of Florentine churches (Santa Maria Novella and Santa Maria del Fiore being the primary examples).
After a leftward turn in the corridor, we reach a room currently exploited as an in-house gym which could however be easily converted into a living room or, why not, into another bedroom with walk-in closet and en-suite bathroom. This wing of the building was in origin a double-volume section which was then split horizontally into two floors to increase the habitable surface of the house. From the gym, one can mount up a staircase and reach another double bedroom located above and fitted with an en-suite bathroom and a peculiar elongated walk-in closet in the shape of the underlying corridor.
The original double-volume of these rooms can be easily deduced by the fact that the gym and the above-lying bedroom are both lit by the same window, which is huge and thus ample enough to cover both floors.