The Riccardis, one of the richest and most powerful Florentine families, were rising rapidly in the second half of the sixteenth century. Their heyday came in 1659, when the marquises Gabriello and Francesco managed to purchase the palace on Via Larga from the Medicis for the sum of 40,000 scudi. After some necessary works of restoration and expansions, this palace became the splendid home of the family’s book and art collections.
In the eighteenth century the family’s fortune started to wane; financial setbacks also impacted the library, until it was put up for auction. The collection thus ran the risk of leaving Florence. In 1813, however, the city council purchased it; two years later, it was donated to the state. From then on, the “Riccardiana” has been a public library. However, it was open to scholars already during the Riccardi’s times. Ever since 1737 learned people were allowed to access the library to use its precious patrimony of books, as reported in a loan register that can still be seen on site today.
English translation by Stefano U. Baldassarri, Oliver Jersild e David Kirby.