Piazza della Signoria represents the throbbing heart of the city life Of Medieval Florence. Piazza della Signoria has a peculiar form: it is like the shape of an “l” and it is towards the south of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Fiore and can be reached by Via Calzaioli. In the past it had many different names: Piazza del Granduca and Piazza dei Priori.
The square is situated where there was a Romanesque building and a christian basilica which were used until the early 7th century. From the 10th century on, there were many radical improvements to the Florentine urban structure, as well as to this square and its immediate surroundings. It was here that the medieval neighborhood took life, which was then destroyed to create an open area that is Piazza Della Signoria.
Florence what to see: Piazza Della Signoria’s History
The square began to take form in the 1268, when the Guelfi, who had just won in benevento, decided to destroy the Ghibelline houses in the area.
The action was not well-organized, in fact the open place was created, but would only be paved in cobble stones in 1385. Almost at the same time, Palazzo Della Signoria was built, which gave a new stimulus and became the throbbing heart of Florence. It contrasted with the first religious square of the Piazza Del Duomo and with the commercial one owned by the Mercato Vecchio, later replaced by Piazza Della Repubblica.
During the 16th century, the Loggia Della Signoria was added to the square and was used for public ceremonies and the Tribunale Della Mercanzia, in which there commercial and civil disputes were debated. Soon after that, Piazza Della Signoria became the headquarters of public executions, one rather famous being on 23rd may 1498, when Girolamo Savonarola was hung and burned after having received a heresy sentence (in the middle of the square, near the Nettuno’s fountain there is a plaque to mark this fact). The stake was placed here because in this place the “Falò della vanità” took place during which many clothes, board games, books, manuscripts and poems were burned.
Starting in1500, many sculptures were added to improve the decorations of the square. Such improvements made the Piazza Della Signoria become a wonderful and eye-catching open exhibit. In the 1800s, Piazza Della Signoria was restored with many Neo renaissance buildings, for example Palazzo Delle Assicurazioni, situated exactly in front of Palazzo Vecchio.
Piazza della Signoria not only statues
By taking the street to piazza Della Singoria, on your left you can admire a marvelous equestrian statue dedicated to Cosimo i De’ Medici, it is made of bronze and was created by Gianbologna in the 1594 and commissioned by Ferdinando i de’ Medici to celebrate his father. On the marble base, there are three low reliefs that represent many salient episodes of the Cosimo i’s life: the title of duke’s awarding, the conquest of Siena and the election to gran-duke.
Still on the left of the street you can admire the Fontana di Nettuno (also called Fonte di piazza), created by Bartolomeo Ammannati and Giambologna in the 1575 and positioned on the side of Palazzo Vecchio, during the construction of the new aqueduct. The sculptures that embellish the square were made between 1560 and 1565: Ammannati used some of Baccio Bandinelli’s drawings, who died in 1560. The fountain was inaugurated in 1565, during Francesco i de’ Medici and grand-duchess Giovanna d’Austria’s marriage. However, the fountain’s tank was completed in 1575. The central figure was Neptune, made of carrara marble using Cosimo i de’ Medici’s line face. Neptune is a clear allusion to the Florence’s maritime dominion.
On the left side of the terraces of Palazzo Vecchio you may see Marzocco’s sculpture (this one is a copy, the original one, attributed to Donatello, is on the terraces of the Museo del Bargello), which represents a lion with the crest of Florence. During the republican era, it was a habits of lords to have a lion in the garden in the background of the palace.
The numerous sculptures in the loggia della signoria are very interesting, also called dei Lanzi, built in 1382 on the side of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Among the sculptures, the most important ones are the Fortezza di Giovanni, the theologian and cardinal virtues: temperance, prudence, justice, charity and faith. However, the most famous and important work remains the Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini, who immortalizes the moment during in which the famous Greek hero shows Medusa’s head just killed. The statue symbolizes the clean cut just happened with the unfortunate republican experience, which went down in history for the city’s bloody discord that undermined the implementation of a real democracy for the entire period.
The central building of the square is the Palazzo Vecchio, which dates back to the early fourteenth century and home to the priors of the arts, or the representatives of the various corporations of trades, which in 1282 began to engage the city government. The building follows the shape and style of the medieval fortifications, and with its style, had the merit of giving go ahead for the construction of public buildings built in other cities of Tuscany. The loggia dei Lanzi, or della Signoria, was built between 1376 and 1381 by the architects Benci di Cione and Simone di Francesco Talenti, who attributed the function of a useful balcony to harangue the crowds during official ceremonies. The building combines Gothic elements, such as pillars and their superior perforated crowning, with classic details, such as the large round arches. In the sixteenth century, democracy failed, the lodge lost its original function and was converted to open-air museum, in which all the sculptures were placed and were part of the wonderful medici collection. In the late eighteenth century, the original setting was accompanied by many works from the villa Medici in Rome.
The museum of Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio features a museum and an interesting archaeological route and can be visited at the following times: from October to march it is open all weekdays except Thursday, from 9.00am to 7.00pm. On Thursday, however, museum and archaeological tours can be done from 9.00 to 2:00. During the entire period from April to September, the museum is open from 9.00 to 23.00 and on Thursday between 9.00 and 2.00. The tower is accessible to all visitors, except to children under 6. In addition, access to the tower is suspended in case of rain or bad weather. The tower is open every day from October to march from 10.00 to 5.00, and Thursday from 10.00 to 2.00 hours. In the period between April and September, you can access the tower from 9.00am to 9.00pm and on Thursday from 9.00am to 2.00pm. The ticket office closes every day one hour before the museum. Those staying in our facilities may require a ticket reservation.
The museum is home to beautiful rooms and private apartments which are fruit of renaissance architectural transformations. The Salone del Cinquecento is the largest and most beautiful among all the places to visit, as well as the most important, because it is enriched by the works of artists like Michelangelo, Vasari and Stadano. A Coffered ceiling with paintings, imposing sculptures and golden decorations, leave any and all visitors speechless. The transformation of the building began in 1540, when Cosimo i de’ Medici and his wife chose the Palazzo Vecchio as their residence.
The palace was turned into a maze of rooms, apartments, terraces and decorated courtyards. Palazzo Vecchio is one of the most interesting museums in the city, full of secret passageways and mysterious clues, such as the number of symbols scattered amongst in its halls.