The Bagnesi Family had their origins in the hills south of Florence in the area known as Montici. Tradition suggests the family’s surname derives from a natural spring, i bagni, which was located in this region. By the end of the twelfth century with the extension of the city walls closer to the north bank of the Arno River, several important families including the Bagnesi chose this new area, the present-day Via dei Neri, as the site for their urban residences. In the thirteenth century, the Bagnesi were leaders of the Guelph Party in Florence.
During the civil strife of that time a branch of the family was exiled to Modena and changed their name to Bellincini. The years 1346-1527 saw the family’s greatest participation in the Florentine Republic; the Bagnesi had six of their members appointed gonfaloniere (chief magistrate) and fourteen named priore (member of the executive council). The Bagnesi were enrolled in the Bankers’ and Wool Guilds from which they derived much of their wealth. As members of the Wool Guild, the archival records reveal how from 1418-1436 the Bagnesi were instrumental in the administration of the construction of Brunelleschi’s dome for the Florentine Cathedral.
The Bagnesi Palace is renaissance in character and form and can be attributed to the opening decades of the sixteenth century. The historical core of the palace consists of three floors that develop around a large central courtyard articulated by Doric-style columns of pietra serena. Of extraordinary architectural note is the extensive forecourt atrium highlighted by the use of groin vaults supported by Doric-style columns. From the atrium one can access the upper floors via the grand staircase adorned with a sculpted pietra serena balustrade. The façade is typical of the three-floor Florentine palace plan. The three levels of the palace are delineated by the use of pietra forte string courses upon which rest traditional renaissance-style windows framed by rusticated stone.
The Florentine branch of the Bagnesi was extinguished in 1635 and ownership of the palace passed to the Modena branch of the family. The Falconieri purchased the property in 1808. In the early twentieth century, the palace became the headquarters of the Tuscan Gas Company, which conducted extensive renovations carried out by Ugo Giovannozzi in 1938.
In 2018, the Florida State University Florence Program, located and evaluated the feasibility of the purchase and renovation of the palace as FSU’s new Florence Study Center. With the guidance and supervision of International Programs’ Director Dr. James Pitts, Associate Director Louisa Blenman, and FSU Florence Director Frank Nero, FSU Florence diligently navigated the negotiations and municipal approvals to finalize the building’s purchase in 2019.
FSU conceived the renovation to suit both the university’s needs and restore the palace to its sixteenth-century character. A team was organized consisting of Architectural Studio Petronici, GPA Partners Engineering and Design, and Staredil Construction to renovate the palace for Florida State University. Renovation began in 2019 and the FSU Florence Study Center at the Palazzo Bagnesi opened in September 2020.
The ground floor of the palace includes the security desk and Program Assistants’ kiosk, which should always be students’ first point of reference for questions and assistance. Across from the PA desk, students will find the student announcement monitor that is updated daily with important information regarding activities, upcoming events, reminders, and deadlines. Students should consult this monitor at least once each day. Adjacent to the PA’s reception kiosk students will find the administration forecourt where FSU Florence’s Housing Coordinator, Student Life and Health Services Coordinator, Covid-19 Information/Internship/ Community Outreach Officer, and Financial Coordinator are located.
Beyond that reception and administrative areas, students will enter the FSU Florence Atrium of Honor where they will find the main staircase leading up to the second and third floors of the study center. Leaving the atrium students will see the elevator and down the corridor the Piazzetta, a small student lounge. Continuing down the corridor students can reach the Ponte Vecchio Cooking Lab and the residents’ laundry room. The entrance to the Caffe Giglio d’Oro at FSU Florence is located on the right side of the corridor before reaching the Piazzetta.
Students can enter the Garnet and Gold Library from the caffé. The library features the Game Time Study Pod which students can sign out for independent and group projects. To the rear of the library, students can access both the outdoor Boboli Patio and an alternate entrance to the Ponte Vecchio Cooking Lab and the residents’ Laundry Room.
The second floor features the offices of the Program Coordinators, Academic Coordinator, and the Associate Director and Director. This floor also includes the Belli Arti Gallery, ItaliaNoles Media Lab, Tornabuoni Fashion Studio, and the Pitti ARC Room. Radiating around the second floor are also the following classrooms: San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito, Duomo/Baptistery, and the Santa Croce, Uffizi, and Giovannozzi Rooms.
The third and fourth floors house a student residence. The attic features the Bellosguardo Conference Room.