The consulate knows what’s going on, and soon I’ll have answers.
Do you recall this sentence? It is from the novel Inferno, when Robert and Sienna are seeking help from the American Consulate in Florence, albeit with poor results …
The American Consulate in Florence is part of the United States Mission to Italy and is located in Lungarno Vespucci 38 (on the river Arno), a long stretch of land along the north bank of the Arno in Florence that spans from the Ponte alla Carraia to the Ponte alla Vittoria.
The great nineteenth-century buildings that overlook this embankment were once especially devoted to hotels, some of which still operate today. Among the most famous hotels in the nineteenth century are the Bristol, the Florence, the Washington, and the Grand Hotel. Here stayed mostly wealthy foreigners who loved to enjoy the view over the Arno, the San Frediano and the hill of Bellosguardo.
The headquarters of the American Consulate are located in the Palazzo Calcagnini (1876-77):
from the double entrance, in front and on the back are just inside where there is a double staircase leading to the first floor, while the other floors are served by other scales. The interiors are embellished with stucco, arches and columns, especially on the first floor where there are a number of lounges with gilded stucco and polychrome.
On the west side there is a small garden enclosed by high walls, beyond which there is a second building used for the stables and services; this was also the coach entrance.
According to many, this was the last of the great private palaces in Florence, which were succeeded merely by villas and condominiums.
In 1949 the palace was bought by the American government to serve as the site of the Consulate General; it is therefore equipped with impressive security services (including constant police patrols).
Just a note: where else could the American Consulate be located if not on a street dedicated to Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine who gave his name to the American continent?
Amerigo Vespucci actually lived in this neighborhood, and his family was one of the most important in the district of Ognissanti.
Pictures by Wikimedia