Piazza Beccaria, molti anni fa

Piazza Beccaria, many years ago.

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Florence’s grand Piazza Beccaria was designed by the architect Giuseppe Poggi when Florence was made the Capital of the Kingdom of Italy.

It was originally called the Piazza alla Croce because one of the gates in the medieval walls that surrounded Florence, the Porta alla Croce, was located there and was left –more or less– intact.  This is the gate you see in the vintage photo above.

In 1876, the piazza was renamed in honor of Cesare Bonesana Marchese di Beccaria.   A number of concave palazzi were built to encircle the piazza. Just to the south stands the State Archives, where the Casa della Gioventu Italiana del Littorio previously stood.

In 2003 – 2004, a three-story underground parking garage was built under the square.  I walk over it every time I’m headed to the great shopping district to the east.  Two of the most beautiful modern (20th century) ville are located a stone’s throw away.

The Porta alla Croce was thankfully spared the destruction of the walls.

Poggi created a circular space in this piazza, with the ancient gate as a fulcrum, and a series of grand palazzi with concave facades. Moving south from the square, towards the Arno, the avenue had to bifurcate, leaving a plot of land in the center which is now occupied by the State Archives.

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At the bifurcation of the Giovine Italia and Amendola avenues, the building that houses the Archivio di Stato faces the place where until 1977 the Italian Youth House of the Littorio of Florence stood. Before that there were the so-called “Pratoni della Zecca”, an area that Poggi had planned to magnify the view from the hill of San Miniato towards Piazza Beccaria and vice versa.

Between 2003 and 2004, the square was affected by important works for the construction of an underground car park, for a total of 205 parking spaces organized on three floors, designed by the architects Paolo di Nardo and Fabio Rossetti , who in parallel also intervened in the partial rearrangement of the square’s furnishings [1] .

On the side and at the center of the circular avenues that cut it in half, the square presents three green areas (previously four) crossed by a pedestrian path that passes under the Porta alla Croce ; for several years the green space to the east, opposite to the one facing the center , has been deformed and reduced to the point of completely losing the elegant elliptical design; that just north of the portal was, instead, paved. The green flower beds are kept in lawn. On the west side, on 11 September 2009, the Municipality of Florence, in memory of Teresa Sarti Strada , planted a red maple . [2] . On the opposite side, however, the design of the flowerbeds has some trees (including a tall magnolia ) and bushes.

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