Piazza della Signoria, Florence Italy
The Piazza della Signoria in Florence Italy has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century. It was the scene of great triumphs, such as the return of the Medici in 1530 as well as the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola, who was then himself burned at the stake here in 1498 after he was denounced by the Inquisition as a heretic. A marble circle inscription on the piazza shows the location where he was burned.
The sculptures in Piazza della Signoria bristle with political connotations, many of which are fiercely contradictory. The David (the original is in the Galleria dell’Accademia) by Michelangelo was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio as a symbol of the Republic’s defiance of the tyrannical Medici.
Andinelli’s Hercules and Cacus (1534) to the right of the David was appropriated by the Medici to show their physical power after their return from exile. The Nettuno (1575) by Ammannati celebrates the Medici’s maritime ambitions and Giambologna’s equestrian statue of Duke Cosimo I (1595) is an elegant portrait of the man who brought all of Tuscany under Medici military rule.
The graceful Loggia dei Lanzi, which functions as an open-air sculpture gallery, was designed by Orcagna in 1376. Its curved arches foretell Renaissance classicism. The statue of Perseo holding Medusa’s head, by Cellini (1554), is a stark reminder of what happened to those who crossed the Medici, and along with Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines, are two of many beautiful sculptures found under the arches of the Loggia dei Lanzi.
From the Piazza della Signoria you can go through the Vasari corridor, which runs through the Uffizi, and over the Ponte Vecchio bridge to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the River Arno. The Vasari corridor was constructed by Vasari after the Medici family moved into the Pitti Palace, to provide a covered passage back to the town square. Today, you can walk past all of the shops from the Piazza della Signoria all the way to the Pitti Palace.
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