Old meets new in Florence’s Central Market
The Central Market in Florence was designed by an ambitious man called Giuseppe Mengoni (1829-1877), who would go down in history as the father of Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
When he was young, he wrote himself a note stating, “I am nothing today, but the terrible passion that bashes me from the inside will lead me to my destination, despite the obstacles. Today, May 7, 1852, at half past four, I resolve with all my heart to surpass every other living artist, and to reign in posterity alongside Raphael and Michelangelo”.
When the Florence Municipality decided to build the Central Market – as part of the urban redevelopment that began when the capital city of Tuscany became also the capital of Italy (1865-1971) – Mengoni drew his inspiration from Les Halles in Paris. He used the most modern materials, such as cast iron and glass, with bossage as a reference to the Renaissance – thus merging old and new, as was typical of his ‘modus operandi’ as an architect. The Market opened in 1874.
In 1877, Mengoni died under tragic and mysterious circumstances, falling from the scaffoldings of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele the day before his deadline with the Municipality.
Only a few hours earlier, the man who had always lived with a “terrible passion” inside, had declared “My mission is accomplished.”