At the end of Via Ricasoli, once the Contrada del Lastrico or Via del Lastrico due to the presence of a few stretches of Roman road still present in the Middle Ages, stands Palazzo Albergotti, the most important neo-classical building in Arezzo, which belonged to one of the most influential and prestigious families of the city since the Middle Ages, when they represented an indispensable reference point for the Guelph faction.
Also known as “Palazzo delle Statue” (Palace of Statues) for the series of allegorical terracotta sculptures by Arcangelo Ciofini that adorn its top, seven on the façade and three on the side overlooking Piazza Landucci, it was built between 1792 and 1799 on Alessio Albergotti’s commission, incorporating three houses with pre-existing vegetable gardens owned by his family. The project was entrusted to the well-known Chianciano architect Leonardo Massimiliano de Vegni, already the author of the Foiano della Chiana theatre in the Arezzo area, who brought to the city the style that, even in architecture, broke away from Baroque and Rococo and was inspired by Greco-Roman art.
In 1800, during the French reprisal following the anti-Jacobin Viva Maria riots that had broken out in Arezzo the previous year, the building’s façade was ruined by a cannonade, but in 1801 it was restored.
In 1830, Palazzo Albergotti was purchased by Leopold II of Habsburg-Lorraine to adapt it as the city’s grand ducal palace, but with the annexation of Tuscany to the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1860 and the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, it was forfeited to the newly-born Italian state.
Between the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it had various public uses – school building, headquarters of the Intendenza di Finanza e del Tesoro (Finance and Treasury Office), Conservatoria delle Ipoteche (Mortgage Registry Office), Ufficio Tecnico Erariale (Revenue Technical Office) – until in the second half of the last century it was converted into the headquarters of the Soprintendenza ai Beni ambientali, architettonici, artistici e storici di Arezzo (Superintendence of Environmental, Architectural, Artistic and Historical Heritage of Arezzo), now the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio (Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape Superintendence) for the provinces of Siena, Arezzo and Grosseto. This peripheral body of the Ministry of Culture carries out the fundamental activity of protection, conservation and valorisation of movable and immovable property, both public and private, recognised as being of artistic, historical, archaeological, demoethnoanthropological, architectural and landscape interest in its area of competence.
On the outside, Palazzo Albergotti is distinguished by its monumental façade clad in smooth ashlar on the ground floor and marked by a group of six flat pilasters in the upper central forepart, on which rests the elegant triangular tympanum with the coat of arms of the aristocratic Arezzo family in the centre, supported by allegories of Fame.
Inside, the building features vaulted rooms with lunettes on the ground floor, belonging to one of the previous buildings, frescoed in the second half of the 17th century by the painter Giovan Battista Biondi and his collaborators.
Rich in decorative elements is the upper floor, originally the main floor of the building, which in part still reflects a late Baroque taste, but on the other hand now looks with conviction to the Neo-Classical painting that also reached Arezzo at the end of the 18th century. Among the frescoes present, the two large views with the “Landscape with sea coast” and the “Landscape with Greek temples” stand out.
If we pass through the vestibule of Palazzo Albergotti, we reach the raised garden at the back, with a rectangular plan, a four-sided layout and a central basin. The green space is one of the most characteristic in the historical centre of Arezzo.