Facilities History

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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 new Alinari photography museum. 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.


Jules Maidoff Palazzo for the Visual Arts

SACI’s newest facility is another major palace in the center of Florence: the Jules Maidoff Palazzo for the Visual Arts, which is named after SACI's founder and director emeritus. This palazzo includes a floor with large, well-lit painting studios; SACI’s new graduate center, with its own terrace and garden access; SACI’s new design center and design library; fully equipped animation and fresco studios; a student lounge, with additional computers for student internet access; gallery spaces; two major lecture halls; and a beautiful Renaissance courtyard. SACI’s acquisition of this palace—which has four floors and is over 2,000 square meters, has excellent light and beautiful historic rooms—offers students outstanding facilities for all SACI classes. The palazzo is opposite the Fondazione Circolo Rosselli Library, near the city archives which contain the Tarkovsky film and theater holdings, and a very short distance from Florence’s newly opened Library of the Oblate, a public library for students which has late evening hours that are ideal for SACI students. Also nearby is the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, founded in 1288, with its remarkable artistic holdings; Florence’s Archaeological Museum; and the Conservatorio of Santa Maria degli Angiolini, where SACI students continue to restore the convent's artworks.