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 Palazzo Vecchio 


Address: Piazza Signoria
The oldest part of Palazzo Vecchio may be the work of Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1302) and was built at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth century as the seat of the Priors. Successive additions of the fifteenth and above all of the sixteenth centuries have changed the scale of the rear of the palace without however modifying the massive appearance of the huge blocks, projecting gallery and assymmetrical tower dominating Piazza Signoria.
Initially the seat of Signoria, temporarily housed the Grand Ducal family under Cosimo I de' Medici before their transfer to Palazzo Pitti. It was in this period (1550-65) that Vasari transformed it, sumptuously redecorating the newly reconstructed interiors for the palace's role both as the seat of government and official residence of the ruling family. The entire palace is a museum, especially the so-called "Monumental Quarters".
 
Palazzo Vecchio, FlorenceLet us take the most important interiors in order, starting with the first entrance courtyard with its white and gold stuccoes and sixteenth century frescoes over an elegant structure of the second half of the fifteenth century. One then arrives immediately in the old Armoury, where the Town Council of Florence organizes frequent exhibitions. On the first floor is the grandiose Salone dei Cinquecento, the work of Cronaca (1495) which
held the assemblies of the General Council of the People under the State reforms brought about by Savonarola. The walls of this room should have been frescoed by Michelangelo and Leonardo; the actual appearance of the interior is the work of Vasari and his pupils and dates from the second half of the sixteenth century. The panelled ceiling and wall frescoes, the "Udienza" (the raised section of the room with statues by Bandinelli and Caccini) and the sculptures of De' Rossi showing the Deeds of Hercules, all belong to the complex symbolism and precise historical references glorifying the Medici. Also in the Salone is Michelangelo's Genius of Victory.
 
Florence, Palazzo VecchioIn contrast to the grandiose Salone, but equally sumptuous, is the little Studiolo of Francesco I, a jewel of Mannerist art and sensibility to which the prince would retire to gaze at his treasures. This dates from around 1570. Each one of the rooms on the first floor is dedicated to a personality of the Medici family such as Cosimo the Elder, Lorenzo, Leo X and so on, and is appropriately frescoed. On the second floor is the Apartment of the Elements and the Apartment of Eleonora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I. Even amid its rich decorations, the little chapel of Eleonora of Toledo is outstanding with its magnificent frescoes by Bronzino (1503-1572). This is followed by the great public rooms, the Audience Chamber and the Lily Chamber, with rich ceilings, decorations and doors of the fifteenth century. Throughout the palace art and history blend to remind one constantly of its former glories.
In the final area of the monumental quarters is the setting for the "Loeser Collection" left to the Florentine Town Council by the American art critic Charles Loeser on his death in 1928.
This comprises painting and sculpture mainly of the Tuscan school and ranging from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century to include works by Tino da Camaino, Berruguete, Rustici, Bronzino and Cellini.


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