Piazza dei Cavalieri: Palazzo dell’Orologio
The Palazzo dell'Orologio faces piazza dei Cavalieri. Archaeologists have discovered that this area was already inhabited by the Etruscans. The palazzo was created in the 17th century by linking two medieval buildings, when the square was re-styled, and underwent several other alterations up to the 20th century.
In the early 14th century, the casa torre on the left was the Palazzo of the Capitano del Popolo and the one on the right, connected to it by an overhead bridge, was the Muda tower, so called because when the eagles, bred by Pisa as a symbol of its power, moulted (muda) they were kept here.
The tower belonged to the Gualandi family. Later it became a prison, called della Fame (Hunger Tower) or delle sette vie (Seven Ways). Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, celebrated by Dante in the 33rd canto of the Inferno, died here in 1288. In the 1500s, the building became an infirmary, called ‘Buonuomo’s’ from the title of the person in charge.
In 1605-1608 the buildings were made into a single unit; the right half was rebuilt around the Torre della Fame and the two parts were connected by an overhead passage. The façade was decorated with frescos, now mostly lost, with allegories of Peace, Earth, Abundance, Intelligence, Glory and the Lands to celebrate the Medici’s good government. The belfry was added in 1696 and until 1804, the palazzo was a home for aged knights and an infirmary. It was bought by Count Gherardesca in 1919 and was renovated once more, when the Neogothic mullioned window was added to the left façade.