Since the days of the 16-century pageantries of the Medicis, Florentines have always loved drama and show.
The glossy, glamorous nightlife of the theater world was a passion for 19th-century Florentines, especially during the bleak and chilling winter season.
In 1824 the Grand Duke of Florence, Ferdinand III, lay on his deathbed. His parting words to his son were: “Take care of my wife, of your sister, and of my people.”
As an afterthought he said: “In these circumstances the theaters are always closed for a long space of time, but many people who earn their bread in that way suffer from this. Shorten the court mourning.”
On the street of Via Ricasoli, at no. 3, is the Teatro Niccolini, named for Giovan Battista Niccolini, a passionate political poet who wrote to further the “Risorgimento,” the nineteenth-century movement to unify all of Italy.
Built in 1652, the theater has had a couple of nicknames. First it was called Il Cocomero, “The Watermelon,” after the name of the street.
Then the resident dramatic society renamed the building the Accademia degli Infuocati (“The Academy on Fire”).
If you look above the door and over the second floor at the equally unconventional coat of arms: a stone-carved lighted bomb. Fifteen hundred people could while away the night at The Academy on Fire.
Holler, Anne. Florencewalks: Four Intimate Walking Tours of Florence’s Most Historic and Enchanting Neighborhoods (Kindle Locations 1083-1090). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.