LocationsFlorence - Via Maggio

Palazzo Ridolfi, formerly Palazzo Zanchini - Via Maggio, 13

With the construction of a new circle of walls which begun in 1284, the Oltrarno and the Santo Spirito quarter were considered within the city, with the new influx of wealthy and high class people in the quarter gradually increasing. Their contribution to the change of buildings and infrastructures became significant in the 15th century, when the palaces which still flank via de' Bardi, borgo San Jacopo, via Santo Spirito, via Maggio, and bordering squares were constructed. Front doors became taller and more monumental, enriched by massive boscage frames as windows became bigger and the emblems on the façade, more visible, elaborate, and colossal.

In particular via Maggio, which is the main street, changed and became the benchmark for the newest and finest architectures, and at the same time becoming the location where the most powerful and famous families wanted to live. Among them, the Corbinelli family, who owned the central part of the palace and made it through the unification of adjacent houses in the 15th century.

In 16th century Francesco and Guglielmo Sangalletti bought the building and sold it in 1583, for 5000 scudi, to Giovanni Battista Zanchini from Castiglionchio. Later, the new owner bought other adjacent houses that were then put together giving birth to todays structure. Zanchini and Camilla Ricasoli, who became Zanchini’s second wife in 1585, then chose it as a home. Still a controversial factor is the identity of the architect who redesigned the palace for its new owner. Today, specific literature is still based on Baldinucci theory which assigned the project to Santi di Tito, because of the particular architectural choices, such as the grand front door with oblique jambs, the classical disposition of first and second floor windows, and the grand family emblem on the left corner of the building, with four chains united in a ring in the centre. Regarding the construction of the first courtyard, not even the most recent research can establish for certain the architect or when it was built. It may date between the 15th century, during Corbinelli period, and the late 16th century, when the changes ordered by Giovanni Battista Zanchini were made. He also commissioned a Jason sculpture to the artist Pietro Francavilla, clearly a self-celebrative piece of artwork.

After its completion in 1660 of the Florentine branch by the Zanchini family, all the properties were inherited by the Bologna branch of the family, who in the 18th century (after merging with the Zambeccari family), shared it with the Ricasoli-Zanchini family of Florence. The decision of evaluating and dividing the common property was made in 1780. In 1843, the palace was then sold to the marquise, Cosimo Ridolfi, who already owned the adjacent building.

Giovanni Battista Zanchini sought for and obtained public respect by personally taking care of the important restoration works carried out at Via Maggio's palace, commissioning for the internal chapel and the important cycle of frescos on the main episodes from the life of his protector, San Giovanni Battista. The small room is also finely enriched with marble columns, polychrome stuccos and a rare majolica floor, which dates back to the time of the paintings (end of the 16th century) and exhibits a chain decoration inspired by the family emblem.

Today, Palazzo Ridolfi is where several cultural activities take place. Among them, the Institute for Art and Restoration, ‘Palazzo Spinelli’ which uses its rooms for theoretical classes, ateliers and workshops for conservation and restoration of frescos and paintings.


Palazzo Ridolfi has been the historical location of the Institute since 1976.

Courses include: Masters, Vocational Restoration Courses, Training Vocational Courses for the Promotion of Cultural Heritage as well as Short and Summer Courses.

Representative: Dr.ssa Lorenza Raspanti

Mail: info@palazzospinelli.org