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Firenze S. Maria Novella

exterior view of the station today
Frequented by 160 thousand persons per day, 59 million per year, Firenze S. Maria Novella is a “main” station located right inside the city centre, in piazza della Stazione, and a primary hub in Firenze’s public transport system. It hosts over 400 trains per day and is a major intersection point for many bus and taxi lines.

History

exterior view of the station in 1960 - photo from FS archives
Firenze Santa Maria Novella has amongst the most architecturally significant recent buildings of any Italian railway station.
Firenze’s earliest railway station was the “Leopolda”, built in 1844 and designed by Robert Stephenson, the son of the man who invented railways. It was one of Italy’s very first railway stations, and was located outside the city’s walls. Four years later a second station, the “Maria Antonia”, was built inside the city walls, which was an important innovation for the railway concept prevailing in those days. “Maria Antonia” station was demolished to make way for the present station facing the church of Santa Maria Novella: a masterpiece of rationalist architecture, one of the finest expressions of the modern movement in Italian architecture.
Once agreement had been reached between the City Council and the State Railways that Firenze’s main railway station should continue to be located inside the city walls, in 1932 a national competition was launched for the design of the new Travellers Building. It was won by the Tuscan Group of architects headed by Giovanni Michelucci and including Baroni, Berardi, Gamberini, Guarnieri and Lusanna. The station was opened in 1935: its chief features are the spacious entrance hall with its glass and steel roof structure and the main gallery, whose functional layout heralds the one later built in Roma. Its outer facings and finishings reflect the materials and colours of the city around it, while its interior is adorned with important artworks including sculptures by Italo Griselli and paintings by Ottone Rosai and Mario Romoli.

Present situation

the station today
Its extends over several levels:
• a basement floor which houses stockrooms, commercial services and utilities rooms;
• the ground floor, at track level, features various shops and catering establishments, railways offices and passenger services;
• the mezzanine floor is occupied by a restaurant, a bank agency and a pharmacy;
• the upper floors contain various offices, stockrooms and accomodation units.

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