Florence 365, the column edited by Daniele Niccoli, author of the book of the same name published by apex books
Facts and anecdotes related to the history of the city of Florence told day by day
A help to know ours seed and to guess our future.
Consider your seed:
you were not made to live like brutes
me to follow virtue and knowledge (Dante, Inferno, canto XXVI)
September 28, 1856 – The Palio of Siena in Piazza Barbano
The terrible conditions of poverty in which the poorer classes found themselves caused a cholera epidemic in 1833 that caused the death of a thousand people. The situation caused confusion among the wealthiest citizens who thought of solving it with an unorthodox method: increasing the rents of the houses to force the poor to leave the center of Florence.
This led to the decision to create a new neighborhood in the area of the so-called Barbano gardens. The design was entrusted to Francesco Leoni, but, when he lost the political support of Luigi Cambray Digny, who died suddenly, the project passed into the hands of Flaminio Chiesi who carried it out.
The central element of the new district was the square called Maria Antonia, in honor of the grand duke’s second wife Leopold II of Lorraine, even if the Florentines have always identified it as Piazza Barbano. Precisely here, April 27, 1859, the peaceful insurrection originated which led to the expulsion of the Grand Duke and started the process of annexation of Tuscany to the kingdom of Sardinia. For this reason in 1870 the square was renamed as Piazza Indipendenza.
All this, however, still had to happen when on 28 September 1856 a Florentine entertainment manager organized a Palio in Piazza Barbano in which the Contrade of Siena participated but, apparently, no Sienese. Bell tower problems that reappeared in 1898, the year in which Calcio in Costume was restored. The Municipality of Florence asked that the extras of the Contrade di Siena participate in the ceremony, but the answer was a dry and motivated no.
this purpose is not in the nature of the constitutions of the districts themselves, which lose all their prestige far from Piazza del Campo
The Florentines quickly came to terms with this because they had been so much about the useless megalomania of the Sienese well recognized by Dante in the XXIX canto of hell:
And I said to the poet: «Now it was never before
people as vain as the Sanese?
Certainly not the francesca of a lot! (Dante Alighieri)
Returning to the Palio of 1856, the chronicles report the victory of the Contrada della Chiocciola with the jockey Antonio Vignali called Bello or also Fiorentino perhaps precisely because he won that Palio or perhaps because he was originally from Poggibonsi, a land where, according to the pure Sienese, the citizens would be suffering from the “lexical defect of speaking Florentine”.
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