History of the building

Mr. Gaetano Bianchini was a very special artist: His works were a special kind of mosaic called 'Commesso in Pietre Dure', where hard stones of all colors were cut very precisely and joined together to form a shape. You can see an example of his art in the right picture, where you can appreciate the quality of this masterpiece. His atelier was in the building which now houses the Vipflorence Apartments in the Canto dei Nelli. On the third floor, where are the Giotto and Cimabue apartments, a reinforced door (still present) was in place to protect all the finished pieces. The other two floors were the factory itself, where skilled workers cut and polished the single mosaic pieces which would be used later to form a complete work of art.

Mr. Bianchini often asked painters to draw a subject for his works: so one day he called the young but already famous painter Antonio Ciseri, and they decided to build a large table picturing the first meeting between Giotto and Cimabue. The legend says that Cimabue (1240?-1302), the most famous painter of the XIII Century, was traveling in the countryside when he saw a young shepherd drawing with some chalk on a rock. The drawing was so well done, that Cimabue brought the young Giotto to Florence to became his pupil. During the preparatory sessions, Mr. Bianchini often invited the painter for dinner at his villa in Florence hills. There the young Ciseri met Cesira, Mr. Bianchini's daughter, and the two fell in love.The marriage took place after one year. Eventually, they had a son, the great grand-father of the current owner of the building. As a wedding present to his bride, and as an homage to Mr. Bianchini, Antonio Ciseri painted a portrait of the Bianchini Family, probably the most famous group portrait of the time. The portrait was displayed at the Uffizi Museum in 1991, the centennial of Antonio Ciseri's death, and in other important museums. The 'Giotto and Cimabue' table and the 'Famiglia Bianchini' portrait still belong to the original family.

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