They began to build the walls upon the aforesaid foundations.
And at this time the following buildings were erected:
The Osservanza di San Miniato de' Frati di San Francesco(1); the sacristy of Santo Spirito; the house of Giulio Gondi(2); and the church of the Frati di Sant' Agonstino,(3) outside the Porta a San Gallo. And Lorenzo de' Medici began a palace at the Poggio a Caiano, on his property, where so much has been beautifully ordered, the Cascine, etc. Princely things! At Sarrezana a fortress was built; and many other houses were erected in Florence: in the street which goes to Santa Caterina, and towards the Porta a Pinti, and the Via Nuova de' Servi, at Cestello,(4) and from the Porta a Faenza(5) towards San Barnaba, and towards Sant' Ambrogio, and elsewhere. Men were crazy about building at this time, so that there was a scarcity of master-builders and of materials.(6)
(1) The monastery (lately built near San Miniato) of the Osservanza, a Franciscan Order, who already had one at Fiesole. (Trans.)
(2) In our days we have just seen this palace completed on its southern side, thanks to the care of its owner. In finishing this work the remains of the house opposite in Via de' Gondi were demolished; this used to be the Casa della Dogana, and in still older times the Casa delle Prestanze, that Giuliano Gondi bought from the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool) to use in his building, and in it Leonardo da Vinci lived as a boy, a fact which I was the first to prove in July 1872.
(3) Chiesa di Sant' Agonstino. In the siege of 1529 it was demolished together with the convent which was united to it. They occupied almost the same area as the parterre and oratory of the Madonna delle Tosse. The monks were moved into the city, where they were given the church of S. Jacopo tra' Fossi.
(4) Cestello was at that time the name of the present convent of S. Maria Maddalena in Borgo Pinto, which belonged to the Cistercians. In 1628 they exchanged it for that of the nuns of S. Maria degli Angeli of Borgo S. Frediano, still called S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi.
(5) See note to 8th June, 1481.
(6) In May 1489 the Signoria, desirous of providing for the beauty of the city, and for the wants and convenience of those who might wish to inhabit it, granted an exemption for forty years from any tax for those new houses which should be built within five years "in places where there was no house or any beginning of one." In March 1494 this term was prolonged to the end of the year 1497.
This night there began, and continued until the 18th, a certain fine rain, which froze whilst it fell, and made icicles upon the trees. There was such a quantity of it, that the weight bowed the trees down to the ground and broke the branches. Note, by the way, that this was on the hills. For about half a mile near the river it did no injury. It began at Fiesole, and extended to the Mugello; and at San Godenzo and Dicomano it did much harm. On my land at Dicomano it tore from the roots several chestnut-trees and oak-trees, and broke nearly all the branches of the olive-trees and every other kind of wood, so that at one of my farms the branches alone made twenty piles of wood; and some of the broken limbs of the chestnuts were more than two feet thick, such as was never seen before. Those who chanced to be in the woods, thought that the world was coming to an end, when they heard everything cracking, and the deafening noise overhead. There was such a heap of grass that it weighed several pounds; and the stubble of the corn in the fields looked like organ-pipes. The stacks appeared to be roofed with glass, and it was too dangerous for anyone to walk in the country. The farms were ruined for many years, the fruit-trees not bearing fruit, the olives remaining like suckers, and the oak-trees being all spoilt. It was incredible, but true.
The Arno rose very high, and ruined the mill of the Ponte a Rubiconte, next to Santa Maria delle Grazie, and a porter was drowned there. The mill was a spinning-mill. The river overflowed its banks in several places.
The coinage was changed: that is, silver coins began to be used; and it was decided that the grossone should be worth 16 quattrini and a half, like the old silver ones. All the taxes were to be paid in silver, which meant a little increase to the people, as a quarter more had to be paid, when there was need, on the contrary, to relieve them. This increase was made by divine permission, on account of our sins; because the poor are generally worse than the rich and great. Praise be to God!
This same day they began a causeway between the Loggia de' Signori and the Palagio, so high that one could walk on a level from the door of the Palagio into the Loggia; with steps leading towards San Piero Scheraggio(1) and towards the Piazza, so that neither horses nor any other animals could pass there any longer. It was also rather inconvenient for people, having to go up and down again. Some persons liked this causeway, and others not; I myself did not care for it much.
(1) This church was one of the oldest in Florence; it was in the form of a basilica, its interior somewhat resembling San Miniato al Monte. Many political meetings were held in it. The Florentines hung the "Caroccio" of Fiesole on the marble facade (afterwards copied in marble, but destroyed with the rest of the church)l and tradition says that the ancient marble pulpit or ambone was also from Fiesole. This pulpit, when the church was suppressed, was given to the little church of San Leonardo in Arcetri, which was connected with San Piero Scheraggio, and it can still be seen there. The north wing of San Piero was demolished first, to widen the street between it and the Palazzo Vecchio (this street is named after the Capella delle Ninne), and the south wing was also closed, the central aisle being still used for service till the year 1560 when the church, chapter-house and loggia were all demolished to make place for the Uffizi. (Trans.)
Lorenzo's son, the cardinal, received the hat from the Pope.(1) It was given him at the Badia on the way to Fiesole (i.e. at San Domenico), and many citizens went out to meet him when he came into Florence to visit the Signoria; and the next day he went to hear mass in Santa Maria del Fiore. And on this day the Signoria presented him with 30 loads of gifts carried by porters, being silver plate, and basins, and ewers, and dishes, and all the silver utensils that can possibly be used by a great lord. According to what was said, they were estimated at more than 20 thousand florins, although that seems impossible to me; but it was public report, and therefore I set it down. It was certainly a rich and magnificent gift. Praise be to God!
(1) When he had been made cardinal in 1488 he had not received the insignia, being only thirteen years old.