Il luogo delle meraviglie inaspettate nel cuore di Firenze
The main venue for the conference is the Il Fuligno complex in the thriving centre of Florence, just minutes from the train station of Santa Maria Novella, the Market of San Lorenzo, and the Medici Chapels.
The Educatorio di Fuligno takes its name from the Franciscan nuns from Umbria who occupied it from 1419, but its origins date back to 1316 when for the first time is documented a “Monastery, or Romitorio in Campo Corbolini” that housed a group of Augustinian nuns.
Purchased in 1416 by Ginevra Bardi, Alberti’s widow, to introduce the Franciscan Tertiaries, it was enlarged and embellished during the fifteenth century by the religious nobles Sr. Onofria de’ Conti d’Abruzzo and Sr. Giovanna di Onofrio degli Onofri, who gave great impetus to the convent, in which many Florentine noblewomen also entered, and in those years the monastery was also subsidised by Lorenzo Il Magnifico and the Lapaccini family.
Abolished at the end of the XVIII century, in 1829, after the restoration of the neoclassical style facade, the Fuligno was used as an educational centre for “the Christian and civil education of the poor girls of Florence, especially orphans”. It then went through a period of changes of use. In 1997 restoration of the location began thanks to the Italian State and with the help of the Florentine municipality. Today the location is used as a multifunctional centre, meeting all the requirements of modern Florence.
Salone dei Cinquecento
The conference opens in the Salone Dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio in the centre of Florence. Literally translated as ‘the Chamber of 500’, many people mistakenly believe that ‘500’ refers to the year when the room was built. But ‘500’ is not a reference to the year, but rather to the number of people the room was meant to hold. The room is the largest in all Italy, measuring 54 by 23 meters (175 by 75 feet) and was meant to fit up to 500 council members who would be able to attend meetings as representatives of the city.
The Salone was not part of the original structure of the building but was added in about 1495 by request of Savonarola, the Dominican friar who had come to power in Florence at the time (in 1494 the Medici had been banished from the city). Savonarola wanted to bring a more democratic government to the people and conceived of this chamber as a place where the people could be better represented.
The room with frescoed walls and painted ceiling panels that you see today has nothing of the sober simplicity that Savonarola believed in however. In Savonarola’s time the room was austere and spartan. The current look for the Salone was created under Cosimo I de Medici who transformed this enormous space during the second half of the 16th century (by that time the Medici were back in power in Florence and Savonarola had been executed). The room was turned into a space for the glorification of Cosimo I and the city of Florence.