The lost historic centre

Anyone becoming familiar with the history of Florence can't help but read about the loss of the old historic centre, comprising the Old Market and the Old Ghetto, in the late 19th century - it's one of the big events in the city's history and, along with WWII and the flood, one of the few such events in recent centuries. I've read about it often, but until recently it was just the sad fact that explained the boring modernity of the Piazza della Repubblica. Now with the finding of two books, both in Italian, I'm beginning to appreciate just what was lost, and how big an area was levelled - the four corners of the area roughly being the Duomo, the Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Strozzi and Santa Maria Maggiore.



Com'era Firenze
Cento anni fa
by Piero Bargellini

The first book I found, picked up in a bookshop in Florence, is a collection of photos of old Florence, with a few photos of the lost centre to whet one's appetite for...

Firenze 1892-1895
Immagini dell'antico centro scomparso
by Maria Sframeli

Which I found in the London Library and just had to own - I got it for €35.70 from It's full of fine and heartbreaking photographs of what was lost, and includes a map showing where each photograph was taken.
The excuse of slum-clearance was used, as ever, and there may be some truth in this. But leaving aside such unromantic considerations for a minute, let's wallow.



That's an edge of Orsanmichele to the right

The views of the old market square that you always see.


The church of Santa Maria degli Ughi (above) was demolished,
as was Sant'Andrea (below).


The Palazzo dell'Arte della Lana is in the background above
and to the right below.

Palazzo Arcivescovile

And to finish, views of the buildings which the Nazis blew up as they retreated in 1944 on
either side of the Ponte Vecchio, after and before.

And a similar view from an old postcard, but away from the Ponte Vecchio.


Bridge building in 1957.

Venice // Florence // London // Berlin