Palazzo Aldobrandini is situated at number 8, Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, in Florence, just behind the church of San Lorenzo and almost exactly at the entrance to the Medici Chapels.
The noble family of the Aldobrandini, who came from Florence, became known in the sixteenth century because many members of the family had brilliant careers in the field of law and in the church.
The square (Piazza) of the "Madonna degli Aldobrandini" is named after Madonna (Madame) Giovanna degli Aldobrandini, née Altoviti, who was the wife of a merchant called Benci and who lived around the middle of the fourteenth century. The population decided to dedicate a square to her to honour the generosity and rectitude that had marked out the 'madonna' during her life.
The Palazzo of Piazza Madonna is called "of the Pope" because it is thought that Pope Clement VIII, called Ippolito Aldbrandini, stayed here when he was in Florence.
The present building stands where there were other properties of the Aldobrandini up to the fourteenth century. Extending their properties through the purchase of nearby buildings, another florentine branch of the Aldobrandini family supervised the unification of the various buildings between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth in such a way as to give the Palazzo its current appearance. It now occupies a large area that takes in the right angle of Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini (formerly called Campo Corbellini) with two wings in via de' Conti (formerly via della Forca) and via del Giglio.
The shape resulting from the two parts of the building juxta-positioned is very unusual for Florence.
It was considerably renovated in the eighteenth century, when it took on its present appearance. It was at that time that the palazzo passed to another branch of the family, after that of the pope (from Clement VIII, Ippolito Aldobrandini) had died out in 1690. In 1861 in was inherited by a noble Venetian family, who subsequently sold it.
The palazzo has three floors. From the front doors you enter a hallway decorated in the nineteenth century: worthy of note the wrought iron gates and, facing the stairway, a doorway engraved with the coat arms of the Aldobrandini.
On the first floor (the piano nobile) are rooms with wall paintings by Vincenzo Meucci (1759) and others from the early nineteenth century.
Meucci was hired to do the paintings by Giovan Francesco Aldobrandini in 1759 on the occasion of his marriage with Maria Cristina Bourbon del Monte Santa Maria. As well as the Allegory of the Virtues and the Arts of Meucci, it is possible to identify works by Tommaso Gherardini in the bedroom (Jacob's Dream), in the entrance to the bedroom (the Allegory of Justice and Peace), and the Allegory of Spring in the ceiling of the small corridor that links the main room with the rest of the house.
Genealogy and descendents of Ippolito Aldobrandini
A descendent of the Neri branch of the family was Silvestro Aldobrandini, a florentine lawyer, who became governor of Fano and was exiled around 1530 following the fall of the Florentine Republic. He was a respected student of law and was appointed to reform the laws in Venice and then in Faenza. In 1548 Silvestro Aldobrandini went to live in Rome, where he became secretary of Paolo IV Carafa. He then married Lisa Donati and their sons became the cardinals Giovanni and Ippolito – the latter becoming Pope Clement VIII in 1592.
His election increased the prestige of the family, even if his papacy is controversial because of certain events such as the sentencing of Beatrice Cenci (possibly in order to seize the property of the wealthy Cenci family) and the burning of Giordano Bruno.
After his death his descendents died out and within a few years the branch of his family was without heirs.
The florentine branch of the family finally died out in 1861, merging with the families of Papadopoli Aldobrandini, of the Banchieri and of the De Peon.
The family is currently represented by the prince Camillo Aldobrandini (b. 1945).
The seventeenth century facade of Palazzo Aldobrandini (drawing from vol. 1 of "I Palazzi di Firenze, nella Storia e nell'Arte" (Leonardo Ginori Lisci – 1972)
Coat of arms of the Aldobrandini family
Pope Clement VIII
Coat of arms of Pope Clement VIII