The Foundation was formally established in the early 1990s following the reform of the Italian banking system, but its origins date back to 1829 when a group of 100 citizens set up a local bank known as the “Società della Cassa di Risparmio” to encourage saving and loans among the less wealthy. The bank has grown over the years to become one of Italy’s most important regional commercial banks while maintaining its institutional role in supporting the local community. Its focus on the city and its people is linked to the specific nature of its origin. From the outset the founders waived their rights as “shareholders” and agreed, in an effort to perpetuate the business’s altruistic nature, that membership would be by election only among Italian citizens living or domiciled in Florence and Tuscany who have distinguished themselves in Florence.
Following the legal reform of 1992 and subsequent regulatory acts up to the 2000s, together with another eighty similar italian foundations or more, the Foundation’s commercial banking business was placed in the hands of a newly-established joint stock company entitled “Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze SpA”, thus separating the Foundation’s commercial banking operation from its philanthropic work. The Foundation subsequently sold part of its controlling stake in the commercial bank and invested most of the proceeds in a globally diversified financial portfolio.