Hidden treasures

The upside down balcony in Borgo Ognissanti

Mysteries & Legends

The upside down balcony in Borgo Ognissanti

Borgo Ognissanti is a long road located to the west of the center of Florence, where once were also the old shops of wool producers. It owes its name to the Church of Ognissanti which dates back to 1250 and overlooks the square. But it is not this beautiful building that we want to tell you about: from the chest holding Florence’s many odd facts we have this time selected an anecdote that mixes history, legends and a good pinch of entertaining and resolute Tuscan spirit.

Let's get back to Borgo Ognissanti, at number 12: raising your head you will notice a truly unique balcony. Have a good look at it: all its elements, with the exception of the floor, are built upside down: the tall corbels, the small columns of the balustrade and all the decorations. What is the reason for such bizarreness? Back in the '500s the Duke Alessandro De Medici had issued a regulation that limited the construction of jutting structures such as balconies and shelves. He wanted to avoid making the narrow passages even more constricted and, perhaps, discourage the unpleasant custom of throwing liquids into the street. Messer Baldovinetti, owner of the elegant building at number 12 in Borgo Ognissanti, wanted to adorn it with a nice balcony and so submitted his architect's project to the Duke, convinced that it would be accepted as the road it overlooked was quite wide. But he was proved wrong, as the Duke rejected it. But he did not lose heart and practically every day he submitted a new project to Alessandro De Medici who probably, annoyed and exasperated at the insistent request to build the balcony, answered 'Yes, but backwards!' It was meant as a refusal, but Messer Baldovinetti amazed him by building the balcony upside down. When the Duke saw the strange terrace he was amused and appreciated the presence of mind of the builder so much so that he refrained from having it demolished.

If you like this story and if you are intrigued by interesting facts and tales that mix history and legends, you must definitely book our guided tour of the secrets of Florence! Thanks to our highly insightful guides, you will discover interesting details hidden in the most important tourist destinations of the city. You will grasp the true essence of Florence by listening to secret and mysterious stories and admiring fascinating features just like the 'upside down balcony'.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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