THE FLORENCE INTERNATIONAL ANTIQUES FAIR
The first edition of the Mostra Internazionale dell'Antiquariato, which was held in Palazzo Strozzi in 1959, was repeated every two years in the prestigious rooms of Palazzo Strozzi until 1993 (the 18th Biennale). It all started thanks to the brilliant idea of Luigi Bellini Sr. who wanted to bring the best of Italian antiques to Florence together with foreign merchants in order to create an aggregation of antique dealers capable of offering the Italian clientele, in thw wake of the economic boom, a wide range of collectors’ items and antiques to choose from. However, in the following years the event was strongly supported by the public entities that viewed the Biennale as an instrument capable of restoring to Florence that centrality of cultural elaboration that it had repeatedly had in its history, while at the same time favouring all those artisan forms that give extremely important impetus to the city’s economic fabric.
The overwhelming success of the first exhibition, as well as the following ones, marked the beginning of a market season increasingly more focussed on the Exhibitions.
Worth recalling among the main reasons for this success was the very select participation of the antique dealers, not second to the equally qualified selection of visitors attracted in particular by the fact of being the first post-war exhibition in the world, but above all because it was held in Florence, a city much loved by the international world.
Due to the unavailability of Palazzo Strozzi in 1995, General Secretary Guido Bartolozzi decided to transfer the Exhibition temporarily to Palazzo degli Affari, and then in 1997 to Palazzo Corsini sull'Arno. This was an ideal alternative for several reasons: the beauty of the building, the central location offering easy access, and the proximity to the antique stores and quality shopping streets, as well as the most important hotels in the centre. In 2001, in order to harmonise the grandeur of the building and the environments with the needs of an antiques exhibition, the new General Secretary, Giovanni Pratesi, commissioned Pier Luigi Pizzi, renowned architect and set designer, to revamp the layout of the event. Pizzi therefore created, with the utmost respect for the charm of the Palazzo, an elegant distribution of the spaces, both internally and externally, thereby allowing for a functional and evocative arrangement of the objects on display. This new, highly acclaimed aspect, together with an articulated advertising campaign through extremely qualified press agencies, have by now laid the foundations for enabling the organisers to repeat the extraordinary success of the last two editions with the public and the critics.