The Peruzzi family, “Quei della Pera” (Those of the Pear) as they are referred to in Dante’s Divine Comedy, were once among the wealthiest banking families in the city and played a central role in the political and economic life of late medieval Florence.
By the early XIV century they founded a trading company which was dedicated to commerce, industry and banking operations with branches in the main economic centers of Europe and the Levant, including London, Paris, Geneva, Venice, Constantinople and Jerusalem. The Peruzzi erected numerous palaces and towers around an irregular piazza formed by the southern perimeter of the city’s ancient amphitheatre that came to take their name and functioned as a sort of internal courtyard at the center of the family’s residential complex. The Piazza Peruzzi lies just a few steps from the Piazza Santa Croce, where the basilica houses the Peruzzi family chapel frescoed with scenes of the lives of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist by Giotto and his workshop in the early 1300s.
The Palazzo Peruzzi (more accurately Torre) was constructed around this time and retains much of its original medieval appearance: namely the rock-faced ashlar masonry of local Florentine sandstone. Half way up the façade, the corbels that once supported an exterior wooden gallery can still be seen, and the building’s original fenestration is suggested through the selected and shaped applications of intonaco and redbrick repair. Despite a sensational bankruptcy in 1343, caused at least in part by the lack of repayment of loans extended to King Edward III of England, the Peruzzi remained an important political force throughout the Renaissance and modern times.
The Palazzo was subsequently sold to the Capoquadri of Empoli, whose coat-of-arms can still be seen on the building’s exterior, and ultimately to the Malenchini family who have most recently restored and renovated the building for luxury short-term accommodation suites. The palace appears in the list drawn up in 1901 by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Fine Arts, as a monumental building to be considered national artistic heritage. On the side of the building overlooking Via de' Rustici, above a walled window, is a fifteenth-century bas-relief depicting Saint Bartholomew, donated by the painter Valerio Valeri and placed here by the city's Aesthetics Committee. The building’s state prior to this intervention is partly documented in the engraving by Antonio Terreni with the View of the Arco de' Peruzzi (see Francesco Fontani, Viaggio pittorico della Toscana, Firenze, Giuseppe Tofani, vol. I, 1801, p. 77).
The palace appears in the list drawn up in 1901 by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Fine Arts, as a monumental building to be considered national artistic heritage.