Palazzo Bardi is situated on the south side of the river Arno. On one side, it overlooks Via de’ Bardi, and on the other it enjoys spectacular, if not unique, views over the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and the Cathedral. The building’s original structure dates back to the 15 th century, when a myriad of little cobbled roads branched off from the Ponte Vecchio into the Oltrarno, one of the city’s most charming and typical quarters. The Arno’s banks were flanked by buildings belonging to wealthy aristocratic families (e.g. the Bardi family) – for this reason their residences were known as palazzi.
Palazzo Bardi was modified until the mid 19 th century when an architect called Enrico Poggi was asked to draw up an architectural and landscape plan to turn Florence into a capital city (a role which it maintained for five years, between 1865 and 1870, following Italy’s unification in 1860). Poggi wanted to give Florence a look of uniformity and subdued elegance without creating a violent contrast with its Renaissance architecture. He therefore decided to maintain the Renaissance color palette of cream plaster and grey pietra serena stone, which is visible in so many buildings throughout the city.
Lungarno Torrigiani was included in Poggi’s plan and it is easy to see how he drew inspiration from the more ancient buildings on the river’s opposite side. The lungarni together with the viali leading up to the Piazzale Michelangelo were meant to be a place where Florentines could enjoy afternoon strolls and socialize in the open air.