Palazzo Vecchio de’ Medici / Prefecture
The building, on Lungarno Mediceo began in the 11th century as a casa torre belonging to the nobleman Albizone (o Albitone). Over the centuries it had several owners: the Casapieri, the powerful Appiano family and after 1441, the Medici. In 1539 Cosimo I de’ Medici renovated the rooms without altering its exterior. The first plan to change the facades was in 1545, but modernisation only began in 1550 with what is probably the earliest example in Pisa of ‘kneeling’ windows. Costly Carrara marble was used instead of the more common grey sandstone (Florentine pietra forte). In 1551, after work was completed, a new garden was laid out for Eleonora da Toledo, and in June 1558 she charged Baccio Bandinelli with designing an extension of the building. However, due the death of this architect, work was never begun.
In 1574 Francis I designed the new Pisan residence for the Medicis between Lungarno and via S. Maria (Palazzo Reale) and in 1784, they passed the ‘Palazzo Vecchio’ to Jacopo Finocchietti. Since this is the first known Medici home in Pisa, it is probably the forerunner of other 16th century buildings in Florentine style in this city.
The Renaissance design of the palazzo was destroyed by Ranieri Simonelli’s restructuring in Neogothic style for the Marchesa Vittoria Spinola (morganatic daughter of Vittorio Emanuele II), who replaced the first and second floor windows with the double and triple mullioned windows and marble columns and added the brickwork tower with battlements in 1879. The palazzo is the Headquarters of the Prefecture.