Thursday, June 21, 2012
Tales of the Strozzi
The tale that is told of the Palazzo Strozzi is one of self-consuming grandiosity.
As the story goes, the Strozzi family were banished from Firenze due to their political opposition to the Medici. In 1466, however, Filippo Strozzi returned, having made an enormous fortune in banking elsewhere. He determined to show up the Medici family by building the largest palazzo in the city’s history.
He bought land. He bought neighboring palazzi and knocked them down: fifteen of them. In 1489, construction began. Only two years later, Strozzi was dead and his heirs were stuck with the massive project. And so were their heirs. The building was not finished until 1536 and it left the family bankrupt.
There is another story, which we heard from Shaun as she led some of us actors on a walk through the center of Firenze. In this story, Strozzi wanted to build his palazzo in a style very similar to the Medicis' but did not wish to offend them. So he had three drawings made -- the one that he wanted, and two very bad ones -- and presented them to the Medici, asking for their advice. They approved the better design, which resembled their own, and thus Strozzi was able to proceed without offending the dominant family. A witty parable, whether or not it is true.
Today it hosts art exhibitions, institutes of learning, a library, and a courtyard. It also stands as a monument to resentment and self-destructive anger.