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La Torre Monalda and its history



e dont know precisely the construction date of the Torre dei Monaldi, nor the creation date of a possible consorteria which would be attached there. We just know that the district essential frame, case-corti and case-torri, was builded in XII and XIII centuries. Doubtless already before there were towers: the church called San Miniato fra le torri, today disappeared, is already known in 1046, and was in the North-East, near the Torre Monalda. In the Ponte Vecchio sector, the oldest towers are attested between 1165 and 1180, those in Piazza Santa Trinita are attested since the half of XIII century, but their owners, the Spini family, are owners in this sector since the middle of the XII century. It seems not possible to know more about the construction precisely dates of the Torre Monalda.

In the Middle Ages were in her environment a lot of towers. They were, and some still are, located along Via Tornabuoni and piazza Santa Trinita (seven), between the via delle Terme and Arno (also seven), and along via Por Santa Maria (six). With her measurements on the ground floor (5 meters out of 6 approximately, a little more than 1 meter broad for the walls) the Torre Monalda correspond perfectly to the towers in the vicinity.

It is known that the building around the tower belonged to Angelo and Guido Scali, and that, by succession, it arrived in 1369 in hands of Costanza del Mula Soldanieri, wife of Neri di Lapo. We know that the Locanda del cammello was known during the XIII century, and that the "albergho di porta Rossa" was first located by Francesco Datini, wel known Prato merchant, in 1386, between via Porta Rossa and via delle Terme, were the current Hotel is still located. Its alas impossible to say if the Torre Monalda was still included in the building, however it appears very probable. The Monaldi are the towers owners during the Middle Ages, and still owners when, in 1477, Bartolomeo Bartolini purchases a part of the tower from Francesco Monaldi. Anyway, the tower remained time enough their property, to take their name and to keep it until today. Bartolini then repurchases, piece by piece, the whole grounds and buildings around the tower, and launches Baccio d'Agnolo in a great restructuring of the unit. In 1555 the palate and the tower pass to the Dati family, then, in 1559, to the Torrigiani, whose descendants, year after year, preserve still today the property and the building. Both reorganizations, in the XIX century and at the beginning of XX, in order to adapt as well as possible the building for a hotel use, did not touch the tower herself.

The plan shows some architectural features of the tower. In red the walls of the tower, thicker than those of the rest of the building (one meter broad on the first floor). The doors via Porta Rossa, on the first floor, opens in the sporti or sportici, corbellings on the street, characteristic of the palate frontage. They make possible here to equalize the openings of the main building and the tower, which would be differently whitout them. Inside the building, the tower is integrated in the three floors, and accessible from the parts which are next to it. Only in its last three stages the tower keep architectural autonomy.

An attentive observation of the cut and frontage still deliver other elements to us. First of all, how the art of Baccio d' Agnolo integrates into the frontage, thanks to the sporti, the preexistent levels of the tower. For the first and the third floor of the tower, it was necessary to add some steps. The ground level was preserved, like the second floor, with only a few centimetres. The openings of the tower, necessarily narrower to preserve the original building solidity, open on those of the sporti, broader and regular. The very reduced openings in the high part of the tower are done laterally. The gallery of windows, on the last floor, opened to the hotel clients, makes it possible to admire the landscape around (see the Structure item).

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From G.Balzanetti, Firenze ieri, oggi e domani, in Giampaolo Trotta (dir;), Gli antichi chiassi trà Ponte Vecchio e Santa Trinita, Messaggerie Toscane, 1992. Actual cut of the Palazzo Bartolini at the Torre Monalda level. Source : Hôtel Porta Rossa