araldica di firenze: the viviani della robbia

viviana della robbia

Family: Viviani della Robbia
Dates to: Possibly the 12th century, but certainly the 14th
Meaningful shapes, colors and symbols: Three blue and white checked chevrons over a gold shield.
Where to find it: At the intersection of Via degli Strozzi and Via de' Tornabuoni, across from Palazzo Strozzi.

 The Viviani della Robbia were originally known simply as the Viviani.  They came to Florence most likely in the 12th century and according to Tuscan historians were successful in the highly profitable wool trade.  As was typical with many wealthy Florentine families, the Viviani became involved in the city's politics and, starting in 1306, produced 17 priori and 3 gonfalonieri di giustizia (bearer of justice - a high Florentine office).  As the Medici rose in power in Florence, the Viviani opposed them, which led to them being barred from holding public office.  However the family reconciled with the Medici Grand Dukes and produced two senators.

The Viviani were not only active in Florentine politics and trade, some of the family were active in learning. Vincenzo Viviani was a mathematician and astronomer who was a student of Galileo (who lived in Florence for a time).  After Galileo's death he edited his papers and later in life attempted to measure the speed of sound (getting much closer to the actual figure) than anyone before him.  As his fame grew, various Kings wanted him as their court mathematician, but he ultimately chose to stay in Florence. Viviani is known for the Viviani curve and Viviani theorem, for our math-loving readers out there.