<p>Arms of the major and minor Florentine arts</p>
  • Europe /
  • Italy /
  • Florence

An itinerary entirely devoted to the Florentine trade guilds that contributed so much to the city's wealth and prestige.

Art of Judges and Notaries
(by Horemhat, CC BY 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
(by Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)
(by Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(by Horemhat, CC BY 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)

The headquarters of the Arte Dei Giudici e Notai or Proconsolo Guild is located at Via del Proconsolo 16r and is attested as a particular seat of the guild from the 15th century CE. From the sixteenth century, as the system of the Arts declined, the building changed hands to different families who denatured its appearance and function. Reassessing its ancient origin was Florentine notary Costantino Puccianti. After purchasing it, he placed upon the building a commemorative coat of arms of the Art, including the characteristic eight-pointed star symbol of the association and an epigraph recalling the original destination and the suppression of these institutions by Pietro Leopoldo at the end of the 18th century. 

Following some restorations carried out by the Superintendence, it was possible to bring to light some parts of the ancient paintings realized on the interior walls of the building such as the famous cycle of the Florentine poets, in which there is also a depiction of Dante that calls into question its classical iconography. Another extremely significant representation instead shows the hierarchical organisation of the entire Florentine society, within the centre the symbols of Florence and the eagle of the Guelph side, a faction supported by the Arts, and all around the signs of the city’s twenty-one Arts. 

At the head of the organization of judges and notaries was the “Proconsulus”, the name from which both the palace’s name and that of the present street are derived. Over the course of the 14th century, this magistrate significantly increased his prestige, becoming the official representative of all twenty-one guilds and the Third office of the municipality, after the Gonfaloniere and the Signoria. The requirements to be eligible as Proconsulus were: to have been registered in the guild for at least twenty years, to be at least forty years of age, and to have been Consul in the past. His main task was supervising the members’ work and settling any internal disputes. 

In addition to the Proconsulus, there was a council called the College of Consuls and composed of eight members, two elected among the judges and six among the notaries (since the notaries were in the clear majority over the first ones). In addition to the ordinary business of administration, this organ could also decide on expulsing a member from the guild.

Becoming a member of the guild could be a complex operation. First, because practising as a judge or notary required a long period of study and training that only the wealthiest families could afford; second, acceptance into the guild’s membership depended on meeting specific requirements such as not being illegitimate children, clerics, Jews, or foreigners. For notaries, there were, in addition, three scrupulous examinations necessary to ascertain the suitability of the candidate.


1. Art of Judges and Notaries

2. Art of the Beccai

3. Art of the Wool

4. Art of the Merchants

5. Art of the Corregiai

6. Art of the Silk