Once we reached Piazza della Signoria we headed to Loggia dei Lanzi, whose name is associated to Cosimo I and the Swiss lancers, who used to be lodged there. Its arches rest on clustered pilasters with Corinthian capitals. It is lined with statues, which both of us photographed from different perspectives.
The rape of the Sabine women by Giambologna carved from a single block of marble (1583).
Hercules fighting the Centaur Nessus.
Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus.
The rape of Polyxena by Pio Fedi (1865)
Perseus holding up the head of the Medusa he had just killed by Cellini (1554)
Below the parapet one could see trefoils with allegorical figures of the four cardinal virtues against an enamelled background with golden stars (Temperance can be seen underneath on the left), whilst in the back row six statues of Roman women were also to be seen.
Carved lions, allegoric to the Medicis could be seen almost everywhere.
Having walked about the Loggia dei Lanzi for a while we decided to go across to the Palazzo Vecchio, whose outside architecture retains its Medieval appearance. It is a cubical building in solid rusticated stonework with rows of two-lighted Gothic windows, each of which with a trefoil arch. Above the entrance door one can see the monogram of Christ in the middle flanked by two guilded lions.
Outside the main entrance a replica of the original Michelangelo's celebrated statue of David (1873) and Baccio Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus caught our attention.
But once we made it to the first courtyard the attention shifted to the 1565 frescoes on the walls said to represent scenes of the Austrian Habsburg estates. The columns are richly decorated with gilt stuccoes and the barrel vaults furnished with rather grotesque decorations.
The overall atmosphere was mesmerising, whether it was because of the golden-like colours of the walls contrasting with the columns or the light that seemed to come from above when we stood close to the copy of Verochio's Putto fountain in the centre of the courtyard. I wonder what it would have been like had we visited the other courtyards of the Palace, but we wouldn't have had time enough to thoroughly appreciate it.
(To be continued)