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Florence School of Transnational Governance - European University Institute

Thousands visit Palazzo Buontalenti during FAI Spring Open Days

More than 3000 visitors queued patiently along Via Cavour to explore Palazzo Buontalenti, the Florence School of Transnational Governance’s historic premises, during the FAI Spring Open Days on 23 and 24 March.

25 March 2024 | Event

STG_FAI_open days

Formerly a Medici palace known as the Casino Mediceo di San Marco, Palazzo Buontalenti offered a captivating journey through time for its visitors, guided by enthusiastic high school students and staff members of the European University Institute.

The event, organised by FAI (the National Trust for Italy), opened up Palazzo Buontalenti along with 750 other locations across Italy to the public, allowing them to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of this iconic venue while also gaining insight into the academic activities of the EUI's Florence STG.

We are a public policy school located in a historic monument in Florence, part of a European institution but with global ambitions in public policy,” said Florence STG Acting Director George Papaconstantinou. “We are happy to open up this magnificent building – given to us by the Italian government - so the local community can see the frescoes and the marvels and hopefully also understand what we do, and why we are here.”

During the Open Days, students from Antonio Gramsci High School and the Italian Air Force “Giulio Douhet” Military School acted as knowledgeable guides, providing engaging insights into the art, architecture, and history of Palazzo Buontalenti.

Vittorio Ferrini, a student of Antonio Gramsci High School, said: "We are doing this with our art teacher as part of the FAI open days project. We have studied the building in class and have come here to see it on site. We do our best to make everything understandable to the visitors, including children and the elderly."

EUI staff members added some insights about the EUI’s mission and the role of the Florence STG as a public policy school looking beyond national borders. Many visitors were intrigued to find out that the school welcomes students, fellows, and course participants from all over the world in Florence.

As a sweet conclusion to the tours, visitors had the opportunity to savour Badiani’s gelato inspired by Bernardo Buontalenti, the visionary architect behind the palace. Laura Bechi, overseeing the collaboration of the European University Institute with FAI, emphasised Buontalenti's multiple talents.

“The legend says that Bernardo Buontalenti was the first to associate cream with ice, creating what we know today as ‘ice cream’. The particular taste he created with this experiment takes his name, the name of the artist Buontalenti,” said Laura Bechi. "We thought it would be interesting to associate Bernardo Buontalenti also with his other talents as an inventor in fields beyond architecture or art."

Palazzo Buontalenti holds a significant place in Florence's history, with its origins tracing back to the illustrious Medici family. Originally commissioned by Grand Duke Francesco I and designed by the renowned architect Bernardo Buontalenti in the late 16th century, the palace was a hub for the Grand Ducal foundries and experimentation in various arts, including glassmaking, porcelain, and alchemy.

Over the centuries, the palace underwent several transformations, serving as barracks, customs house, and the seat of the Ministry of Finance during Florence's time as the capital of Italy. When Rome officially became the capital of Italy in 1870, the Palace hosted the offices of state property and, subsequently, the Court of Appeal and Criminal Court. Since 2021, the complex has been the home of the Florence School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute. The premises are progressively being restored and renovated by the Italian State Property Agency (Agenzia del Demanio).


Find out more about the FAI Spring Open Days.

Take a look at the Palazzo Buontalenti brochure

Last update: 10 April 2024

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