Palazzo Blu, lungarno Gambacorti

Palazzo Giuli-Rosselmini-Gualandi _ Palazzo Blu (A. Matteucci)
Palazzo Giuli-Rosselmini-Gualandi _ Palazzo Blu (A. Matteucci)
The palace is one of the most characteristic of the Pisan Lungarno. Founded by Doge Giovanni dell'Agnello in 1356 over a pre-existing nucleus of tower houses dating from the 12th and 13th centuries (of which numerous traces can be seen inside the construction itself), the building is today a centre of art and culture renowned all over the world. In 1495, it welcomed the King of France Charles VIII, during his descent into Italy, which led to the liberation of Pisa from Florence. The numerous families who lived in these halls over time added new rooms and decorations. It was the home of the Del Testa family and of doctor Cesare Studiati, director of the Greek-Russian Imperial College in 1773, which was based here. It was at that time that it was decided to paint the façade with a shade of blue sky, typical of the palaces of St. Petersburg. The palace then passed into the hands of the Bracci Cambini family, whose beautiful coat of arms painted by Antonio Niccolini is still visible, and of the Milanese count Luigi Archinto. The last owners were Counts Giuli Rosselmini Gualandi who restored almost all the interiors. In 2001, after years of neglect, it was bought by Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Pisa, which established the Fondazione Blu and turned it into Blu, a palace of art and culture. For years the museum has hosted international exhibitions, with the likes of Picasso, Dalì, Modigliani and Toulouse Lautrec.
The museum of Palazzo Blu: the collection consists of the works that belonged to the Cassa di Risparmio di Pisa. Other works have been added over the years, such as the Simoneschi Collection. The exhibition space spreads over four floors:
  • Cellars of the Palazzo Blu, with a rich collection of archaeological finds coming from the numerous excavations carried out in the vicinity of the palace. Of great interest is a graphic reconstruction of the Kinzica district in the 14th century.
  • Ground floor, some portraits of the Bank's presidents are exhibited in the vestibule, through which we enter the Giuli library, which preserves the prestigious ceiling decorated by Niccola Torricini (who also designed the ceilings of the main floor). The access area to the temporary exhibitions section is embellished by the presence of the Harpy by the Tribolo, a pupil of Michelangelo, coming from Palazzo Toscanelli, which overlooks a balustrade that allows us to see the thirteenth-century flooring of the ancient via Æmilia Scauri, in addition to the medieval remains of the palace.
  • The main floor it is furnished in nineteenth-century style and exhibits works by post macchiaioli artists, such as Luigi Gioli, the portrait of the noble Roncioni by Jean Baptiste Desmarais (1793) in the music hall, the whims by Gherardo and Giuseppe Poli. A numismatic and archaeological (Etruscan-Roman) collection follows. Of great impact is the red hall, decorated in 1903 on the occasion of a great ball organised by counts Giuli.
  • The picture gallery, on the top floor, is the flagship of the museum. From the fourteenth century in Pisa, with the polyptych of Agnano by Cecco di Pietro and the tables by Agnolo Gaddi and Getto di Jacopo, to the Renaissance of Benozzo and Vincenzo Foppa. The sixteenth century is represented by the Penitent San Gerolamo by the Cigoli, but the absolute protagonist is the Lomi hall, with works by Aurelio, Baccio and Orazio, better known as the Gentileschi, of which we can see the Madonna and Child with Saints. In the centre of the room is the Muse Clio by Artemisia Gentileschi dated 1632. Works by Giovanni Battista Tempesti, like the liberation of St. Peter follow.

In 1406, Florence conquered Pisa, abandoning it for years in desolation. In 1494, Charles VIII, King of France, arrived in Pisa during his journey to the South over which he boasted rights of succession. The population welcomed him, longing for freedom from Florence. A Pisan deputation, led by Simone Orlandi, appeared before him to ask for freedom and the guarantee of an alliance. It is said, however, that it was on the occasion of a wonderful ball in Palazzo Blu, then Palazzo dei del Testa, that the king decided to support the Pisan cause, thanks to Luisa del Lante, later renamed Camilla, who bewitched him with her beauty and wit. That evening, the lady was introduced to captain Ernesto D'Entragues with whom she danced and with whom she fell in love, reciprocated, since when Charles VIII called his men back, Captain D'Entragues decided to remain alongside Camilla and the Pisans who fought to maintain that rediscovered freedom: men, women and children united in this struggle against the Florentines, it was a people's war. For fifteen years Pisa went through what is now known as the Second Pisan Republic. Unfortunately, in 1509, exhausted by constant attacks, even threatened by Leonardo da Vinci to divert the river and therefore leave the city without water, the Pisans surrendered. What happened to Ernesto and Camilla? According to oral tradition, Camilla del Lante left Pisa with her family during the last sieges, while Ernesto, wanted by both the French and the Florentines, fled to the Romito, south of Livorno, where he met his death. It was said that Luisa, back in the city, wanted to go immediately to visit the place where her love rested and that from that day, every 8 November, she went by boat in front of the Romito to throw a flower into the sea, a symbol of their love.
Lungarno Gambacorti, 26 p. 4
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