Via Por Santa Maria

Medieval High Street

Via Por Santa Maria

Once over the Ponte Vecchio on the northern side, you would be facing the old walls along the Arno, and the main gate, Porta Santa Maria. The walls are long gone, but the gate’s name lives on in the street that carries the bridge traffic into the city.

Via Por Santa Maria, named after the city's powerful Silk Guild was the business centre of medieval Florence, lined with the green tables of money-changers in front of the buildings, where many of the city’s first big bankers and merchants had their headquarters – including, most likely, those upstarts the Medici; Giovanni Bicci di Medici’s banking house, a few decades after Dante’s death, would be just around the corner on Via Porta Rossa, off the Mercato Nuovo.

To see the best surviving example of these office-palace complexes, turn left at the end of Via Por Santa Maria, through the marketplace and into Via Porta Rossa for the Palazzo Davanzati, begun just after Dante’s death and now home of the Museo della Casa Fiorentina Antica.

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