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Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. It was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio. It is the focal point of the origin and of the history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political hub of the city.[1] It is the meeting place of Florentines as well as the numerous tourists, located near Ponte Vecchio and Piazza del Duomo and gateway to Uffizi Gallery.


Buildings

The impressive 14th century Palazzo Vecchio is still preeminent with its crenellated tower. The square is also shared with the Loggia della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery, the Palace of the Tribunale della Mercanzia (1359) (now the Bureau of Agriculture), and the Palazzo Uguccioni (1550, with a facade attributed to Raphael, who however died thirty years before its construction). Located in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is the Palace of the Assicurazioni Generali (1871, built in Renaissance style).

Palazzo Vecchio The Palazzo Vecchio ("Old Palace") is the town hall of the city. This massive, Romanesque, crenellated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany.[2] Overlooking the square with its copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well the gallery of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi, it is one of the most significant public places in Italy, and it host cultural points and museums.

Originally called the Palazzo della Signoria, after the Signoria of Florence, the ruling body of the Republic of Florence, it was also given several other names: Palazzo del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori, and Palazzo Ducale, in accordance with the varying use of the palace during its long history. The building acquired its current name when the Medici duke's residence was moved across the Arno to the Palazzo Pitti.

Loggia dei Lanzi

The Loggia dei Lanzi consists of wide arches open to the street, three bays wide and one bay deep. The arches rest on clustered pilasters with Corinthian capitals. The wide arches appealed so much to the Florentines, that Michelangelo even proposed that they should be continued all around the Piazza della Signoria[citation needed]. The vivacious construction of the Loggia is in stark contrast with the severe architecture of the Palazzo Vecchio. It is effectively an open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art including the Medici lions.

Tribunale della Mercanzia

The Tribunale della Mercanzia (Tribunal of Merchandise) is a building where in the past lawyers judged in the trial between merchants. Here were a porch painted by Taddeo Gaddi, Antonio del Pollaiolo and Sandro Botticelli, today stored in the Uffizi gallery.

Palazzo Uguccioni

Built for Giovanni Uguccioni since 1550, its design has been variously attributed to Raphael, Michelangelo, Bartolomeo Ammannati or Raffaello da Montelupo.

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali

The Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali was designed in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1871, and is one of the very few purpose built commercial buildings in the centre of the city. At the ground-floor of this palace it's present the historical cafè Rivoire.

Other palaces are the palazzo dei Buonaguisi and the palazzo dell'Arte dei Mercatanti.

The various eye-catching statues in this square include:

At the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio, a copy of David.[3] The original by Michelangelo is being kept at the
Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts.
The "bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I" by Giambologna (1594)
The Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati (1575)[4]
"The Lion", referred to as "il Marzocco" with a copy of the "Florentine Lily", originally made by Donatello (copy)
"Judith and Holofernes", by Donatello (copy)[3]
"Hercules and Cacus", by Bandinelli (1533)[3]
"The Rape of the Sabine Women", by Giambologna
"Perseus with the Head of Medusa", by Cellini (1554)
"Medici lions", by Fancelli and Vacca (1598)

This exquisit open-air museum evokes centuries of greatness and power! It was already a central square in the original Roman town Florentia, surrounded by a theatre, Roman baths and a workshop for dyeing textiles. Later there was a church San Romolo, a loggia and an enormous 5th c. basilica. This was shown by the archaeological treasures found beneath the square when it was repaved in the 1980s. Even remains of a Neolithic site were found. The square started taking shape from 1268 on, when houses of Ghibellines were pulled down by the victorious Guelphs. The square remained a long time untidy, full of holes. In 1385 it was paved for the first time. In 1497 Girolamo Savonarola and his followers carried out on this square the famous Bonfire of the Vanities, burning in a large pile books, gaming tables, fine dresses, and works of poets. In front of the fountain of Neptune, a round marble plaque marks the exact spot where Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned on May 23, 1498.

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_della_Signoria)

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Copyright: Viktor Vokic
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 7992x3996
Taken: 07/10/2011
Uploaded: 07/10/2011
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Tags: palazzo vecchio; loggia dei lanzi; tribunale della mercanzia; palazzo uguccioni; palazzo delle assicurazioni generali; italy; florence; firenze
More About Florence

Overview and HistoryFlorence has been relaxing since the very beginning, when Julius Caesar adapted the location to serve as a home for veteran soldiers. Its name means "flourishing" and that's what it's been doing ever since.If we can ignore that pesky evidence of neolithic rock-smashers, Florence has been occupied for about two thousand years.Caesar wisely chose the intersection of two rivers for the location of Florence, for defensive purposes. Admittedly he was not the first person to think of this idea, but we'll let him have it for now.The Arno and Mugnone are the rivers over which Florentines built their beautiful bridges, in order to have something else to decorate. See Ponte Veccio for illustration.Like all Roman cities, Florence was originally rectangular in shape, bearing long straight roads with ninety degree intersections. The heart of the city was originally at the intersection where today, you will find the Piazza della Republica."Piazza" means plaza, not pizza. For my American subway riders.Being located in a fertile valley along a major river attracted people, commerce and wealth, according to the laws of burgeoning civilization, and Florence grew up to be a leader in all the new phases, such as the Cult of Isis and later, Christianity.The dark ages hit Florence a little earlier than the rest of Europe. Because of its location on the Italian peninsula, it was fought over viciously during the Gotho-Byzantine war. When Florence was cut off from communications and trade with Rome in the 6th century, its status descended into terrible Lombard dominion most, most foul.Charlemagne and the Carolingian empire were next up in the roster of rulers, so Florence became a county of the Holy Roman Empire.Over the next five centuries Florence experienced more growth and construction and landed as the capital of the Tuscany region in the thirteenth century. Merchants' associations multiplied and brought international trade relations to Florence, and yet more wealth for the construction of Gothic buildings, such as the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.By the thirteenth century, Florence had rightly earned the reputation as the main city of the West. To symbolize this, they constructed the Palazzo della Signoria.Enter Black Plague, 1348. Cue flood, wipe out bridges over Arno river. Begin serious urban planning as of fourteenth century, to remedy the economic and political crises.Remedy? Rhymes with Medici? The Medici family took power by representing the disenfranchised middle class, and began the Italian Renaissance proper.I suppose being bankers to the Pope didn't hurt the Medicis in their stellar rise to power and fame. The family sponsored generations of artists and thus became responsible for the creation of unsurpassable masterpieces by such titans as Leonardo di Vinci, Michaelangelo, Donatello, Boticelli, Brunelleschi... apologies to the curtness of this sneeze of a historical kleenex I write.Let's jump to the year 1737, when the last of the Medicis died. Florence temporarily became part of the Austrian empire, then the capital of Italy in 1865. Rome took over six years later as capital and we enter the modern times.Florence was occupied by the Germans for a year during World War Two. Mussolini met here with Hitler in 1940, after which he led Italy into the war as an Axis power.In Florence, you will get an education in the Renaissance whether you mean to or not. Her progress now continues into the third millenium, where preservation may be the key word. Automobile exhaust is bad for marble, you know?Getting ThereIf traveling by air, you'll fly into either Pisa International Airport or Peretola Airport. Or the ocean but let's say that won't happen.Peretola is closer to Florence (5km) but it's a small, single-runway airport. In 1990 it was renamed after Amerigo Vespucci, so Peretola is also called Vespucci just to confuse matters. From it you can take a bus, taxi or rent a car to get where you're going. The bus takes about half an hour and costs less than five Euro.Pisa airport is keeping Tuscany's profile high in the world! The best way to connect to Florence is by the train, which costs about the same five Euros but takes an hour and a half.Arriving by train is another option for European travelers. For some reason they haven't finished the underground transatlantic subway so Americans will have to fly.The Santa Maria Novella train station is right in the center of the city and offers connections to bus lines, taxis, or your shoes for walking. For long range view, it connects Rome, and all of southern Italy, to the rest of Europe.Car rental information is here. Practice yelling and swerving first so you'll be ready.Taxi fare from Vespucci airport should be about fifteen Euro.TransportationThe city transit is run by ATAF bus company. Tickets are under two Euro and you can buy them all over the place at newspaper stands and such.Most importantly, the center of the city is closed to through traffic and requires a special residency permit to drive there. The restricted area is called the ZTL, or Zone of Traffic Limitation. Car renters make note.People and CultureFlorence is a very international city and they're on the Euro, so visiting while you're in Europe is no problem. Skipping Florence is a problem. Trying to describe it is an even bigger one, so come and have a look for yourself. The drinking age is only eighteen and the city is filled with students.Things to do & RecommendationsIf you speak the language of food and wine, Florence will be your home away from home. Tuscany is one of the world's great wine producers; the Chianti region is only a few clicks west of Florence.Outdoor cinemas, theater, opera, ballet, cafes, and museums will easily fill up your time walking and gawking.Here is a short list of pinpoints to start with in Florence, again with apologies to everything and everyone we had to leave out in consideration of space.Michaelangelo's DavidSanta Croce: medieval Franciscan basilica, National Central LibraryRifredi: where you can find Medici villas and also Chinese and African immigrants, and Peretola airport.Check out Oltrarno for a kinda bohemian neighborhood.For nightlife, go through all the floors of Central Park (the club) and call me in the morning. Which will be around 3pm if you really do it. Here's the best link we've got since their site went down.Now can you please pass me the carafe? People do not grow any older while we're at the table. Thanks!Text by Steve Smith.


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