Le Rampe Restoration

Photo courtesy of La Repubblica.

The steps of Piazzale Michelangelo fill up every night with tourists and residents who watch the sorbet sunset over the Florentine cityscape. Though the views at the top are sublime, the trek up to Piazzale Michelangelo is not so enjoyable. That is about to change. Thanks to an almost two-million-euro loan from Fondazione CR Firenze, the basins and grottos that are installed along the path from Porta San Niccolò to Piazzale Michelangelo will be restored.

Designed by the architect Giuseppe Poggi, the fountains and ramps were built in the second half of the 19th century and have in recent years fallen into a state of disrepair. By April of 2019, the project is slated for completion and the walkway will return to its former beauty.

Built between 1872 and 1876, the ramps are divided into three levels that contain multiple basins and water-filled grottos. In the shadow of the tower of San Nicoclò stand pools filled with stagnant water littered with trash. Due to future conservation efforts, the basins will instead be teeming with water lilies, turtles and fish rather than discarded plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

The first phase will focus on renovating the highest ramp, where the three tanks and five ponds are located. Weeds will be removed from the right side of the three basins, and the water system will be replaced. It was decided not to utilize Florence’s acqueduct water, but to install wells and a water recirculation system.

The tanks will be waterproofed, and the original flora as described by Angiolo Pucci in The Gardens of Florence will be replanted. Water lilies, begonias, hypericum and ivy will line the walls of the ramps leading up to Piazzale Michelangelo from Porta San Niccolò.

“We have chosen to give back to Florentine this place of extraordinary beauty, which deserves to be recovered and valued as a fundamental element of the city landscape,” stated Donatella Carmi, vice-president of Fondazione CR Firenze. How thrilling that after all these years of neglect, Poggi’s ages-old vision for his city will be revived. (isabelle blank)

To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site.