While in Florence I started collecting photos of old doors. I tend to do that
when I travel. So many of the great doors in the historic center of the city are covered in studs. Florentine palazzi were built like fortresses, with their imposing entrance gates opening into central courtyards.
|No.129 covered in studs|
I noticed even the smaller doors were covered in studs. Nothing says "come on in" like a door riddled with nails.
|Entrance to the Palazzo Antellesi, with a spectacular auricular crest. Also it was paper recycling night when I took this shot. It's not normally so littered on the Piazza Sta. Croce.|
OK to be fair, not all of them are covered in studs. Many of them are only partially covered in studs.
|stones and wood and studs at No. 11|
|a rare example of a painted door at No. 13|
|partially studded door at No. 14 |
Centuries of political upheaval and the astonishing wealth of the
Florentine families created an architecture that from the outside looks
foreboding, closed, cold, while inside they were splendid and open. Much like the
Florentine people themselves- reserved or even off-putting at first, after a few meetings they become warm and amiable.
As a giant fortress-like palazzo became unnecessary, and over time, infeasible; most of these urban castles were divided up to make apartments, offices, etc., while sharing the original entrance; a phalanx of doorbells illustrating the division of space.
|No.4 still has its buchette del vino|
Many of the old palaces have a small buchette del vino
near the entrance. This was a mini-portal through which noble families could sell wine and olive oil from their country estates without letting the riff-raff into the palazzo. (There is a great collection of photos
of these traditional Florentine niches on facebook.)
|No.28 with an unfortunate mail slot|
The doors in the historic center are, with rare exception, varnished wood. Painted doors are quite rare. Unlike
Paris, where the wood is usually a cleverly painted faux bois
, these doors are
simply varnished. I even watched several of them being refinished and
was amazed and the thickness (and age) of the wood, and of course wondered what kind of varnish they were using.
|No. 11 with its lovely carved doors|
Single entrances stand out for their relatively modest scale.
|A single family home with a painted facade and simple doors|
And then there are all the clever additional doors, created to make entrances in odd places, as space became more and more valuable.
|Even the wee entrance to No.33 is of course fortified with studs|
Many of these doors require stooping to pass through. This is especially true of those doors inside large old courtyards, but I found plenty built under windows or stairways all over the old city.
|No 1 under the stairs, and it's accessible! |
|entrance doors hidden under a window, disguised to look like the stone walls|
|an interior courtyard door, only 5 feet tall and beautifully varnished.|
More photos of Florentine doors on my Flickr page
All photos in this post by Lynne Rutter,
Florence February-April, 2014
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