Santa Maria Novella obelisks restored

Piazza revitalization continues

Editorial Staff
August 12, 2016 - 16:03

Piazza Santa Maria Novella's renewal continues: a 95,000 euro restoration of the square's two obelisks was completed earlier this week. New barriers have also been set up around the flower beds in the piazza, to the tune of 50,000 euro. Work began in December 2015 as part of the Florence I Care (FLIC) project, which provides restoration funds for works of artistic, social or scholastic significance. 

One of the piazza Santa Maria Novella obelisks | Ph. Mary Gray Ph. Mary Gray

Nine years had passed since the obelisks were last restored, and the monuments had both become cracked, discolored and eroded. This restoration focused on cleaning, grouting work and the installation of a new anti-intrusion system. 

The obelisks have their origins in a carriage race called the Palio dei Cocchi, instituted by Cosimo I de' Medici in 1563 and carried out in piazza Santa Maria Novella. In the Palio's early years, two wooden pyramids served as boundary markers for the race zone. Around 1570, as the ritual grew in popularity, Bartolomeo Ammannati began work on the obelisks, which would eventually replace the pyramids: they were considered more stylistically appropriate, and their monumentality a reflection of the Palio's importance.

Both the obelisk restoration and the new metal flowerbed barriers are part of ongoing redevelopment in the Santa Maria Novella area. From the square's gradual pedestrianization to the new life of the Leopoldine hospital, which now houses the Museo Novecento, nearly 16 million euro has been invested in the piazza thus far. 

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