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Palazzo Vecchio (the Old Palace)


Palazzo Vecchio (the Old Palace) in FlorencePalazzo Vecchio is one of the most important symbols of Florence. Built as Palazzo dei Priori by Arnolfo di Cambio it has become a symbol of the Florentine Republic in 1300, and continues to be the center of power with the Signoria of the Medici (and the restructuring of the Vasari dated 1540). The tradition doesn't stop even in our times as Palazzo Vecchio is now the seat of the Municipality of Florence.

Although the functions of representation due to municipal councils who meet in the amazing Hall called "Salone del Dugento" thanks to the Museum of "Monumental Quarters" you can visit most of the building that hosted the most famous Florentine People in the cultural and political life.

We recommend visiting this wonderful building and possibly with a guide, because it is full of allegories, symbolism and hidden references to the history of Florence and the Medici family, who were at the center of the Italian Renaissance and commissioned many masterpieces.
In addition, you could visit with a guide the secret passages of Palazzo Vecchio, and discover corridors and rooms that were built for some illustrious figures of the Medici family and are not accessible to the public.



Among the most important rooms of the Palazzo Vecchio are:

SALONE DEI CINQUECENTO

An extraordinary 53 m long and 23 m wide chamber with a height of 18 meters. It is located in the oldest part of the Palace. The great masters Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, were called to paint the frescoes on the walls and they both had to paint two battles as a symbol of the victories of the Republic: the Battle of Anghiari and the Battle of Cascina. The Legend says that such battles are still under the fresco of the Salone dei Cinquecento, but it's not possible, just think that Vasari, a great admirer of both, would never have covered the two genes work in Florence. As a matter of fact, the work of Leonardo was ruined by the technique chosen: encaustic, while Michelangelo left for Rome to create the Sistine Chapel, leaving only the proofs. The battles that you can see today are those represented by Vasari: the conquest of Siena, the taking of Porto Ercole, Cosimo I's victory in Marciano della Chiana, the defeat of Pisa in San Vincenzo, Florence troops attacks in Livorno and Pisa. The coffered ceiling with paintings dedicated to Cosimo I is noteworthy and of great value; it even reminds the statues including the "Genius of Victory" by Michelangelo.
Curiosity: a small grating overlooking the Chamber of 500 from Bianca Cappello's dressing room, it's been said that she was very interested in the political life of the city and advised her husband Grand Duke Francesco I de 'Medici. The second wife of Grand Duke was the subject of much intrigue and mystery, not least the death with her husband after a dinner at the Villa di Poggio a Caiano; after several days of agony, that creep is suspected that they were poisoned.

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STUDIOLO OF FRANCESCO I

The small studio created by Vasari in 1570 for Francesco de 'Medici, before he became the Grand Duke, contains a treasure of paintings and sculptures created by Florentine masters such as Allori, Stradano, Ammannati and Giambologna. The prince was fond of alchemy and natural sciences and was also attracted by the great themes of life, which are represented in the works of the Studiolo where there are many strong symbolic references.

From the Studiolo there are two secret passages, one to the Studiolo of Cosimo I and the other one to exit without being seen.
At first, the Studiolo was only accessible from the room of Francis I through a secret passage, but today is open to the Salone..

Book your Visit to the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio or the Secret Passages Tour.


The "QUARTIERI MONUMENTALI"

Located on the first floor the Rooms of the "Quartiere monumentali" are entirely dedicated to the Medici family, as it is discernible from the name of the Rooms: Leo X, Cosimo the Elder, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Cosimo, Giovanni delle Bande Nere, Clement VII. It's possible to visit only the Room of Leo X and the Room of Clement VII, the others are used as offices of the Mayor and City Council.

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THE "QUARTIERE OF ELEONORA"

The apartments were designed for Eleanor of Toledo, Cosimo I's wife, and consist of a Green Room, the Writing of Eleanor, Eleanor's Chapel, frescoed by Bronzino with the stories of Moses, the Room of Sabbine , the Room of Esther, the Room of Penelope and the Room of Gualdrada, the private room of Eleanor.

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IL QUARTIERE DEGLI ELEMENTI (The Apartments of the Elements)

The rooms and the open galleries that are part of the District of the Elements were made by Battista del Tasso and completed by Vasari. Allegories and frescoes’ themes represent exactly the four elements: Water, Earth, Fire and Air, then planets, Muse and the Roman Gods including Jupiter, Juno (the Terrace was once open to the outside but today is a room closed), Hercules (with a beautiful coffered ceiling which depicts the 12 labors), Saturn, to whom is dedicated a beautiful veranda.

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VASARI CORRIDOR

When in 1560 the Medici moved to Palazzo Pitti, they ordered the construction of a passage joining the two buildings. The beautiful corridor designed by Vasari is adorned with precious works and crosses the Arno River over the Old Bridge (Ponte Vecchio) offering a wonderful view of the city.

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THE ROOM OF MAPS OR WARDROBE

The room is dedicated to maps and precious objects from every corner of the world collected by Cosimo I, which were kept in wooden cabinets decorated with maps of the globe. The passion of the Medici, especially of Cosimo I, for geography was immense, and the maps represented were very advanced for its time; for example, we find Mexico that was just discovered and a very inaccurate representation of Australia, discovered centuries later. At the center of the room there’s the largest Globe of that time, made by Buonsignori and Ignazio Danti.

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LA CAMERA D'ARME (CHAMBER OF ARMS)

Outside the Museum, with a direct access from outside to the right side of the Palace is the Chamber of Arms, used for storing weapons and ammunition and now room for exhibitions. The room keeps the entire structure of 1312, when it was built.

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FIRST COURTYARD

The courtyard is the main entrance of Palazzo Vecchio from Piazza della Signoria. The original project made by Michelozzo was restored by Vasari in 1565 for the wedding of the future Grand Duke Francesco I, son of Cosimo I and Joanna of Austria, sister of Emperor Maximilian II, with frescoes depicting the guilds of Florence, but also landscapes of Cities of the Habsburg Empire, which unfortunately have not held up well.

The fountain in the center is a copy of the Andrea del Verrocchio's "Child with Dolphin", the water that flows from the nose of the dolphin reach down from the hill of Boboli thanks an ancient water system piping.

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SECOND COURTYARD OR THE CUSTOMS

The second courtyard is called "the Custom" because it housed the offices of customs, but today it hosts the Museum ticket office and the library.

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THIRD COURTYARD

The third courtyard was designed by Bartolomeo Ammannati and Bernard Buontalenti after the enlargement of the palace. Today it's the access for the municipal offices.

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THE MEZZANINE

Located between the first and second floors, it was the seat of important magistrates at the time of the Priors and later it became the private residence of the Gonfalonier Piero Soderini. It's in the oldest part of the Palace and keeps the stern look of a medieval residence. Under the Medici, it was used to accommodate relatives and later it hosted offices, until they were included in the renovation of the museum for the opening of the monumental quarters of Palazzo Vecchio.

When in 1934 works were completed, some rooms were furnished with artworks and antiques with which the American collector Charles Alexander Loeser wanted to create the new museum of Palazzo Vecchio: the Donation Loeser, one of the most valuable collections of local history.

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