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Palazzo Buontalenti

Palazzo Buontalenti (formerly Palazzo Sozzifanti), a fascinating example of late 16th-century Florentine architecture, occupies an important urban location on the edge of the first circle of the city walls, in front of Palazzo de’ Rossi. It is imposing in terms of size, but in fact is barely visible due to the proximity of the surrounding buildings and because it faces onto streets that do not allow it to be seen in perspective. The way the windows and doors are arranged is very distinctive, in that they are not aligned with the reference facade.

Inside there is a courtyard, characterised by two sets of arcaded galleries with a double order of columns with decreasing diameters: this architectural expedient strikingly heightens the impression of the building soaring upwards.

The Palazzo owes its name to the alleged involvement of the famous Florentine architect Bernardo Buontalenti in the design phase, which took place between 1580 and 1583. The construction of the stately residence, which was formally approved by the institution of the Pia Sapienza (whose headquarters now houses the Biblioteca Forteguerriana), was actually conceived as the Pistoia residence of the Grand Duke: It is no coincidence that the real commissioning client was the Pratica Segreta, the judiciary serving the Grand Duke. There was even a raised passageway, on the side of the palace overlooking Vicolo dei Pedoni, designed so that one could reach the church of San Biagio without having to go down to the street.
In 1592, the Palazzo was sold to Ottavio and Giulio di Bartolomeo Sozzifanti, an up-and-coming family that probably supported the grand duke. In 1863, it was donated by Niccolò Sozzifanti to the Municipality of Pistoia to house charitable institutions; in 1914, it housed the Monte di Pietà and from 1936 an office of the Cassa di Risparmio di Pistoia e Pescia. In 2011, Fondazione Caript purchased some sections of the palazzo, repurposing the rooms on the ground floor for temporary exhibitions. Between 2011 and 2013, and again between 2017 and 2019, the Palazzo was completely refurbished and now hosts the temporary exhibitions of Pistoia Musei.