Facilities History

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SACI's Palazzo dei Cartelloni

Palazzo dei Cartelloni

The Palazzo dei Cartelloni, SACI's main building, is a 29,000 square foot air-conditioned palazzo, located at Via Sant' Antonino 11. It has a beautiful gallery/exhibition space, classrooms, a library, offices, an art conservation laboratory, media facilities and studios surrounding a large, traditional Italian garden. The spacious and light-filled interiors, have been restored to their original Baroque magnificence, with painted ceilings, frescoed walls and marble floors. This location places SACI students in the vicinity of the Duomo, the churches of San Lorenzo and Santa Maria Novella, and is just steps away from the central market and the Alinari photography archives.

The Palazzo was remodeled as a residence in the 17th century for the mathematician Vincenzo Viviani, who had been a pupil of the astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei. Viviani dedicated his home to his esteemed teacher and placed two large scrolls on the building's façade that describe the extraordinary work and achievements of his master. One notices the Palazzo immediately by the bust of Galileo that crowns the palatial entranceway. Viviani created this monument to Galileo in defiance of the papal ban that forbade honoring the work of Galileo partly because of Galileo's assertion that, "The truth of nature is more important than traditional dogma." SACI's home is, therefore, a unique monument to a man who is considered "one of the two greatest sons of Florence" (along with Michelangelo Buonarroti), an accolade inscribed on the buildings scrolls.

Furthermore, the Palazzo dei Cartelloni was built on the foundations of the houses where Francesco Del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine silk merchant, once lived.  Many scholars believe that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Francesco’s wife. Recently discovered fragments of majolica plates and a pietraserena wash basin attributed to Benedetto da Maiano carry the Del Giocondo family crest and came from the Palazzo dei Cartelloni.

Read more about Palazzo dei Cartelloni, aka Palazzo Viviani: What does SACI’s Palazzo dei Cartelloni have to do with Galileo and the Mona Lisa? Part I, Part II, and Part III.


Jules Maidoff Palazzo for the Visual Arts

SACI’s newest facility is the Jules Maidoff Palazzo for the Visual Arts, a fully-renovated Renaissance palace in the center of Florence named after SACI's founder and director emeritus. This palazzo includes studios for students in SACI's MFA and Post-Bac programs as well as two darkrooms; photo drying, printing, and shooting labs; the Blackwell Design Magazine Library; computer and video classrooms; a fresco painting studio; a language and literature classroom; a gallery; an internal courtyard; and terraces that overlook a garden in which SACI students regularly meet with one another and with their instructors. 

The Jules Maidoff Palazzo has four floors and is over 2,000 square meters. It is opposite the Fondazione Circolo Rosselli Library, near the city archives which contain the Andrei Tarkovsky film and theater holdings, and a very short distance from Florence’s Oblate Library, a public library with a cafè hosting cultural events which has late evening hours that are ideal for SACI students. Also nearby is the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, founded in 1288, with its notable collection of historic paintings; Florence’s Archaeological Museum; Italy's first opera house, the Pergola Theater; and the Conservatorio of Santa Maria degli Angiolini, a Baroque chapel restored, over a period of eleven years, by SACI Conservation students.

For images of each palazzo and of the areas surrounding SACI facilities, see the interactive Phototour.