Osterias, brothels, an infamous, degraded place, a popular quarter of medieval Florence, with its narrow streets, squares and squalls, this was the area where today the prestigious and wealthy Uffizi, an urban sector degraded from the point of view, rise building and social. Nicknamed the district of Baldracca, it was swarming with rebels, prostitutes and social housing and despite its central position, just a few steps from the center of power, Palazzo della Signoria, the nickname suggests the kind of services that Florentines and foreigners could easily have found there.
The indication of “baldracca” is not born however to refer to the young ladies who in the neighborhood granted pleasures, but from the nearby and famous Osteria della Baldracca which in turn took its name from the city of Baghdad, confused with the ancient and dissolute Babylon, to refer to the mixture of dialects, languages, gossip, the chaos of races and various people who frequented the district.
But soon the foreign city of Baghdad, wrongly marked with a meaning that did not belong to it, was crippled first in Baldacco, then in Baldacca and lastly in Baldracca.
Famous Tuscan witnesses confirm and pass on the masquerade to which the middle eastern town was subjected; the first is the noble Petrarca: “Waiting for reason I melt and I am weak but I see for you again / I will do it, not even when I would like / only a seat; and that fia in Baldacco “(Canzoniere). Instead baldacca / baldracca in the sense of popular quarter, is already found in Boccaccio, in the famous novel by Frate Cipolla who, telling a crowd of gullible, an imaginative journey through very distant districts, mixes real places with invented ones: “E per Baldracca I came to Parione ”; and finally there is an anonymous fourteenth-century chronicler who, among his fellow citizens who were denounced as Ghibellines, points out someone who goes around the area of ”Baghdad”: “Francesco di Ventura lives in Baldracca”.Suddenly, however, someone put an end to the din of the party district: in 1546, Cosimo de Medici decided to dismantle it and cross it with a road from Piazza della Signoria to the Arno, and in 1559 he entrusted Giorgio Vasari with the construction of a building to join the Magistrates responsible for the regulation of urban life, therefore the Uffizi are born, no more noises and prostitutes in the area.
However, there remained something to remember the name of the neighborhood, the Teatrino di Baldracca, also known as the Zanni, which was erected in the same place as the infamous tavern, in the small building on the Lungarno, on the Via De ‘Castellani side, a project by Buontalenti, occupied today by the Uffizi library.
The chronicles of the time depict him bare and unadorned, a large room that could accommodate more than four hundred people, in which the actors paid a daily rent for often risqué shows, with the most fashionable girls of Florence. Frequented by artisans and shopkeepers who paid a low entry fee, it is said not to be exempt from the presence of some Florentine scions, bored by the plastered princely theater, and in search of comic and spicy shows. Obviously the presence of the local nobility, had to pass silent and unnoticed, and therefore the clever noblemen made use of a sort of small platform, a small room equipped with a grate to be able to spend the evening in full anonymity. But it did not end here, because it seems that the theater was connected to the Medici residence by a reserved passageway, a corridor that looked out onto a small window on the theater, and so the Grand Duke assisted undisturbed to the little show animated by comedians and naked girls.
A pastime which, unfortunately, of the usual spectators ended early, in the mid-1600s, when it was closed, bringing the city back to an impeccable order and rigor, obviously a facade of appearance, and who knows in what other places and with what strange tricks, the wealthy citizens found the leisure to laugh in the company of little demure and virtuous girls, a bit like today among public figures and maidens, history repeats itself, flesh is always flesh, makes the blood of poor, rich and dissidents, arouses pleasures and fantasies of married, engaged and divorced, at least she reconciles everyone!