As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in January 2016, so this post may not be representative of this site today.
When you travel, do you prefer to rise early or to sleep in? I’ve done both and can certainly vouch for both of their advantages, though I prefer (and I say this on a full night’s sleep) to rise early and see a city when it’s still in the process of waking up. Besides, you can’t really beat morning light.
Piazza della Repubblica
Originally the site of the city’s Roman Forum, later a Mercato and eventually the city’s ghetto, the present piazza was not built until the late 19th century. It was part of a series of works conducted during what was known as the Risanamento, which consisted of renovations, repurposings, and demolitions conducted after Florence had been made capital of a newly unified Italy in 1865.
In 1890, the present piazza was inaugurated as Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele II, and the square became a popular meeting place, especially as restaurants, cafés, and luxury hotels sprung up in the buildings that surround it. Eventually, the piazza was given its current name, Piazza della Repubblica, as it is still known today.
Piazza della Signoria
This piazza is named after the Palazzo de la Signoria (later known as the Palazzo Vecchio), which was itself named after the Signoria, the ruling body of Florence. It was a meeting place for politicians and citizens, and still serves as such today for visitors and tourists.
Loggia dei Lanzi
Also sometimes known as the Loggia della Signoria, it stands beside the Piazza della Signoria and adjoins the Uffizi Gallery. It was built in the late 14th century by Benci di Cione and Simone di Francesco Talenti to house the assemblies of the people and hold public ceremonies. It is also, effectively, an open-air sculpture gallery, holding antique and Renaissance art. Benvenuto Cellini worked on this bronze sculpture of Perseus holding up the head of Medusa for nearly ten years (1545-1554), after its original wax model was immediately approved by Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. The process was arduous and nearly killed Cellini, and when finally completed, he was able to cast the statue in its entirety with the exception of three toes on his right foot, which were added later.
The marble pedestal, also by Cellini, though revealed years later, shows bronze statuettes of Jupiter, Mercury, Minerva, and Danaë. With the bas relief shown below, Cellini both represented Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici as Perseus and his betrothed Joanna of Austria as Andromeda, as well as the Medici as Perseus, swooping down to save an unsmiling Andromeda, who represents Florence.
Jean de Boulogne, a Flemish artist best known by his Italinized name Giambologna, created this representation from a single block of marble — the largest ever to have been transported to Florence (its model is on show at the Galleria dell’Accademia). Created in the late 16th century, the group is depicted using a figura serpentina, an upward spiral that can be examined and admired from all sides. The sculpture was originally created without a specific subject matter in mind, and was only granted meaning after Francesco I de’ Medici decreed for it to be placed in the Loggia. The bas relief shown below was added to provide further clarification on the newly-chosen subject matter.
Next stop: this beauty – the Uffizi!