The wealthy families of every city are those who influence history and, sometimes, politics. Often they have been important for the economy and for art, turning into patrons of artists, poets, intellectuals and scientists.

Here in Florence these powerful families were numerous, and the majority of them became rich during the Middle Ages, thanks to the two main business activities: banking (they were usurers), and trade. A considerable number of these families were concentrated in a very small historical center, distributed among the districts, allies or rivals with each other. This was the “game” that defined the city history, especially during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but that survived, though in different ways, until modern times. Alliances between families were commonplace: they were built mainly through marriages, and were useful to climb “the ladder” of power, or to defeat common enemies or business rivals. The Florentine government was a Republic, and it turned into a Signoria (“Lordship”) when power was concentrated in the hands of the main Florentine signori (“lords”), who were members of the most eminent families in the city. This government, shared among the main families, was preserved (apparently, at least!) until the arrival of the Medici family: they became very quickly the ruling family, until the extinction of their dynasty. Their status changed with one Medici in particular: Cosimo I, that became Duke of Florence in the mid-16th century, and from that moment on, power passed in the hands of his family, brought forward from generation to generation.

As a consequence of the Medici supremacy, the other families split into groups, arranging alliances to oppose the rich bankers. The Pucci have always been friends, and partners of the Medici (except for a few occasions). The Pucci were known to dwell in Florence since the 13th century; apparently they were carpenters or architects, because the family members were registered with the carpenters’ guild that included also architects, both back then considered artisan activities. It was with Puccio Pucci (1389-1449) that the family started to engage with trade and politics, allying with the Medici and becoming immensely rich. The family name itself has changed over time (a common practice at the time): it seems, in fact, that the original name was Saracini, and this would explain the image of their coat of arms: the head of a Saracen (“Saracini” comes from Saracen). Another version, instead, says that in the Middle Ages some members of the family took part in the crusades, and won, and this would also explain the presence of a Saracen on the coat of arms. However, we know that Pucci as a family name comes from one of the family members that lived in the 13th century, whose name was Jacopo: he was known as “Jacopuccio”, that became simply “Pucci”. Back to the coat of arms, we can see that the Saracen wears a band on his head, with three “T” that originally were three hammers: this hinted at their status as carpenters. Later, however, they became three “T”, and their meaning is an acronym that stands for “Tempore Tempora Tempera” , which means “mitigate times with time”.

Puccio Pucci started the family’s fortune thanks to his friendship with Cosimo the Elder Medici (in the first half of the 15th century), while his son Antonio became right-hand man of Lorenzo the Magnificent Medici, the greatest Renaissance patron of the city. Thanks to these alliances with the Medici, the Pucci were able to hold important government offices: for example, some members became cardinals, allowing them to expand their power up to Rome. It was Antonio Pucci who, in 1480, commissioned the building of the family palace, that was later enlarged and decorated by his successors, and eventually split into two or three units destined to the different branches of the family. This building is located on Via dei Pucci, a street that is named after them, and it is still owned by their descendants. Among their acts of patronage, the most famous artwork is by Sandro Botticelli: four paintings commissioned to the great artist in 1483 for the wedding between Giannozzo Pucci and Lucrezia Bini. These four paintings represent the story of Nastagio degli Onesti (, one of the Decameron tales by Boccaccio; three of them are in the Prado Museum of Madrid, while one is still part of the Pucci’s private collection. An interesting detail included in the Florence painting is the representation of gold forks at the Pucci banquet: in fact, they were the first ones in Florence to use forks, which were later largely appreciated by the Medici, especially by Catherine, wife of Henry II king of France; she was the one to introduce them in this country.

Let’s focus now on two members of the Pucci family that lived faraway in time from each other: Pandolfo Pucci (who died in 1560), and Emilio Pucci (1914-1992). Pandolfo maintained the family’s good relationships with the Medici until he was removed from their court due to unclear reasons (accusations of sodomy, or republican ideals against the Medici). At this point Pandolfo decided to take revenge, and he organized a conspiracy against the Grand Duke : his plan was to shoot Cosimo with an harquebus, while the latter was passing in front of the palace in via dei Pucci, on his way to the Santissima Annunziata Church. But Cosimo could count on a very important and efficient spy network, and so the conspiracy was discovered. The Medici policy against conspiracies was particularly severe, it had been since the so-called “Pazzi conspiracy”, one of the most terrible attempts to eliminate this family at the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent: his reaction was to kill all those who had been somehow involved in this episode. Cosimo I sentenced Pucci to be hanged from the window of the Bargello Palace, seat of the police, and confiscated all the family properties, included their palace. This, however, was later returned to the Pucci. Cosimo also ordered to wall up the window from which Pucci was supposed to shoot him: this window is still visible at the ground floor of this palace. The same episode occurred again a few years later, when Pandolfo’s son, Orazio, attempted to kill Francesco I, son of Cosimo; Orazio was discovered and hanged in the same way as his father.

The latest famous Pucci is certainly Emilio, fashion designer and founder of the Pucci Fashion House. Emilio was a ski and aviation enthusiast: he joined the Regia Aeronautica Italiana (the Italian Royal Air Force), where he served during war. He was sent on several missions, and was honored with Medals of Military Valor. But before this, when skiing was his passion, he had designed and created the skiing equipment for Reed College, and even his own. In 1947, after being imprisoned and tortured due to his relationship with Edda Ciano Mussolini, daughter of Benito (Gestapo was looking for some important diaries of her husband, now in her possession, that concerned some government matters), he returned to Florence to pursue a new path. The path of fashion started by chance, when an American magazine published a photo of him dressed in a ski suit, designed by him; the snapshot was so successful, that it spread around the world. Emilio then started to design and create women’s clothing; in 1950 he opened his first boutique in Capri, and in 1951 he participated in Italy’s first fashion show held in Florence. Starting 1960 his fame and fortune increased thanks to the icon Marilyn Monroe who loved his creations so much, that she was even buried wearing a Pucci green dress, one of her favorite. The stylist dressed other stars like Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Maria Callas and Jacqueline Kennedy.

A family, ultimately, that has always been present in Florentine history and society; one of the few dynasties that was not extinguished, and that still owns the historical palace in the center of Florence, seat of their private residence.