Itinerary: Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Signoria
Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio, the heart of Florence
Piazza della Signoria (pic n°4) with the historic Palazzo Vecchio is the heart of Florence and, together with Ponte Vecchio is the main picture that people depict in their mind when thinking about this city. The worldwide-famous Uffizi Art Gallery is located just close to this square.
Piazza della Signoria is located in the city center just 700 meters away from Piazza del Duomo through the picturesque and lively Via dei Calzaiuoli and also can be easily reached from the train station by a 10-minute walking. Since the thirteenth century, when the square began having its current appearance, Piazza della Signoria has always been the political and administrative center of Florence ("Signoria" is an Italian word that describes a political control). It has also been the stage of many historical events, such as the Bonfire of the Vanities in 1497 by Girolamo Savonarola. Today, this L-shaped square is a real open-air museum, featuring some incredible works of art.
On the southern side of the square, there is the Loggia della Signoria (also known as Loggia dei Lanzi), built in 1382 and hosting some beautiful sculptures that you can admire without paying any ticket. The most famous sculpture here is Perseo by Benvenuto Cellini.
Walking towards the center of the square, you will find an equestrian monument dedicated to Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany in the sixteenth century, together with Fontana del Nettuno, a wonderful fountain built in 1575 by Ammannati and Giambologna.
On the side of Palazzo Vecchio (pic n°4), there are some statues, among them the copies of some masterpieces such as the Marzocco, a lion with Florence coat of arms, by Donatello, (the original statue is preserved in the Museo del Bargello of Florence) and the copy of the worldwide famous David by Michelangelo Buonarroti. You can admire the original marble statue of "Davide" (pic n°3), dated between 1501 and 1504 in the Galleria dell'Accademia of Florence.
The most imposing structure of the square is Palazzo Vecchio (pic n°4) or Palazzo della Signoria, a palace whose construction began in 1299 following the design by Arnolfo di Cambio. It was built as the center of civil power in Florence, as it used to host the highest Government body of the city, but it underwent several modifications and influences in the course of time, making it a place where many styles and historical periods intertwine. Today, this beautiful palace with battlements and a central Tower is open to visitors and home to some of the most beautiful Renaissance-style works of art.
Our visit to Palazzo Vecchio starts from the amazing finely-decorated porticos of Cortile di Michelozzo and continues inside. The main attraction is Salone dei Cinquecento (pic n°2), a majestic hall featuring beautiful ceiling coffers and amazing frescoes on the walls depicting the wars won by Florence. There is also a statue by Michelangelo representing The Genius of Victory.
There are many other halls that are worth a visit: from Quartieri Monumentali to Quartiere degli Elementi, from Sala dei Gigli to Quartiere di Eleonora: all of these salons are characterized by an impressive amount of frescoes, paintings, and elegant artworks. Take a deeper look at Sala della Giustizia, whose ceiling is laminated in pure gold, or Sala delle Mappe Geografiche, with beautiful, painted maps. Do not forget to visit Mezzanino (the mezzanine floor), which today hosts a gallery with many important paintings.
There are also some secret paths to be followed to discover the history if this palace, or you can also climb 406 stairs to enjoy an amazing city view from the top of Arnolfo Tower (95 meters high).
On the southern side of Piazza della Signoria you will find Piazzale degli Uffizi, the courtyard of Palazzo degli Uffizi, where the worldwide famous Uffizi Art Gallery (pic n°1) is located. The palace was built starting from 1560 by Giorgio Vasari and today it is home to some of the finest and priceless works of art, whose nucleus was the private collection of De Medici family. Being visited by nearly 2 million visitors every year, it is the most visited museum in Italy. Its artworks date back to the twelfth and thirteenth century and it is also the most important Renaissance collection in the world displaying masterpieces by many artists of Florence and beyond. You can here admire the art works of Botticelli, Cimabue, Tiziano, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Rubens, Canaletto, Mantegna just mentioning some among the many others.
The museum is organized by a chronological order, so you start with Sala dei Primitivi and continue in the 1400 salon (with Dittico dei Duchi d'Urbino by Piero della Francesca), before taking some time to admire Botticelli's masterpieces: The Birth of Venus (pic n°6) and Allegory of Spring.
Other milestones of the gallery are the only signed painting by Leonardo da Vinci (Annunciazione), Doni Tondo by Michelangelo (pic n°5), Venus of Urbino by Tiziano, and Madonna with Child (or Lippina) by Filippo Lippi.
In every corner of this gallery, you will see fine art and priceless masterpieces by the greatest artists ever existed. This is the best place in the world where to go in depth of the Renaissance age and its artistic importance.
The official website of the museum: Uffizi Art Gallery
More about Florence:
Florence, the famous art city and its historic churches
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, great shopping of jewels and gold
Some pictures of Piazza della Signoria and Uffizi Art Gallery, Florence:
Uffizi Art Gallery (pic n°1); Inside Palazzo Vecchio (pic n°2); David by Michelangelo (pic n°3); Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio (pic n°4); Hall Michelangelo & The Florentins, in the background 'Doni Tondo' by Michelangelo (pic n°5); The Birth of Venus by Botticelli - Uffizi Gallery (pic n°6)