Curious Florence: Palazzo dei Cartelloni

In via Sant'Antonino 11 in Florence, there is a building that immediately catches the eye of passers-by as it features decidedly unusual decorative elements. It is Palazzo Viviani, otherwise known as the "Palazzo dei cartelloni” (Billboards Palace), due to the enormous epigraphs with which the facade is decorated. Among these "billboards", above the entrance door, there is also a bust of Galileo Galilei. One wonders, was this perhaps the home of the famous Pisan scientist?
No, this was actually the home of Vincenzo Viviani, another scientist and also disciple of Galileo.
Viviani admired and respected so much the work of his Master, that upon his death in 1642, he wanted to have a monumental tomb erected in his honor. However, he encountered the opposition of the ecclesiastics, who considered it inappropriate to celebrate the memory of a man convicted on suspicion of heresy.

So in 1690 Viviani decided to take matters into his own hands and build his own monument to Galileo. He therefore commissioned the construction of the facade of his palace to his friend Giovan Battista Nelli, and had it decorated with large scrolls on which Galileo Galilei's discoveries were engraved and a bust of the scientist with bas-reliefs on the sides: on one side was represented the observation of Jupiter's satellites through the telescope to determine the longitude at sea, on the other the parabolic motion of projectiles.
It took almost a hundred years before the monumental tomb was inaugurated in 1737 in the Basilica of Santa Croce, where the mortal remains of Galileo and his disciple Viviani, who had also been dead for over thirty years by then, were placed.

A curiosity: before belonging to Viviani, the palace in via Sant’Antonio was owned by Francesco del Giocondo, who was none other than the husband of Monna Lisa Gherardini, the woman painted by Leonardo da Vinci and known by everyone as the "Gioconda". Since the painting was commissioned to Leonardo from Giocondo, the image of his woman was given the nickname "Gioconda".

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