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Palazzo della Signoria

Palazzo Vecchio is located in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence and is the seat of the municipality of the city. This massive, Romanesque civil architecture synthesis town and one of the most famous civic buildings in the world.
Originally called "Palazzo dei Priori", it became in the fifteenth century "Palazzo della Signoria", the main body name of the Florentine Republic; in 1540 became the Palazzo Ducale, when the Duke Cosimo I de 'Medici made it his residence; Finally the name Old hired him after 1590 when the court of Duke Cosimo moved to the "new" Palazzo Pitti.
From 1865 to 1871 was the seat of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Italy, while today it houses the Mayor of Florence and various municipal offices. There is also a museum, which takes visitors to the magnificent rooms where they worked, among others, Agnolo Bronzino, Ghirlandaio, Giorgio Vasari, and where an exhibition of works by Michelangelo Buonarroti, Donatello, Verrocchio.
The building has gradually enlarged towards the east, coming to occupy an entire block and stretching the initial fourteenth parallelepiped quadruplicarne up to the size, with a plant that resembles a trapezoid of which the facade is only the shorter side. On the main facade rusticated, the Tower of Arnolfo is one of the emblems of the city.

In the ancient Roman city of Florentia it was at this point the ancient Roman Theater, which had the semicircular auditorium towards Piazza della Signoria and more or less along the present scene Via dei Leoni.
In still ongoing excavations (begun in the early 2000s) we were carved out of a series of rooms in the basement, without affecting the bearing wall, which gave birth to many remains of different periods. Among the most interesting are three rooms, accessible to the public since December 2008, where were found traces of the stage of the theater floors, with a column piece that had to break when was demolished the scene. then later the remains of wells, coins, jewelry and amphora and a child's skeleton, which probably dates to the first century have been excavated (trials are ongoing).
During the Middle Ages the area was densely built, with houses and tower-houses very similar to those still visible in the district over the nearby Via della Condotta.

The new Palazzo dei Priori
At the end of the thirteenth century the city of Florence decided to build a palace in order to ensure the effective protection of judges in those turbulent times, and at the same time celebrate the importance. The palace is attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, architect of the Duomo and the Basilica of Santa Croce, which began to build it in 1299. The palace at the time called Palazzo dei Priori was built on the ruins of Palazzo dei Fanti and Palazzo Executor of Justice already owned by the family of the Ghibelline Uberti, expulsion in 1266. He incorporated the ancient tower of the Vacca using it as the bottom of the tower in the facade. This is the reason why the rectangular tower (94 m) is not in the center of the building. After the death of Arnolfo in 1302, the palace was completed by two other masters, in 1314. Also in the basement were used as prisons ancient cavities under the arches of the Roman theater of Florentia.

From 26 March 1302 (at the beginning of the year according to the Florentine calendar), the palace was the seat of the Signoria, or the city council headed by the priors, and the standard-bearer of justice, a cross between a mayor and a head of government with a charge but it lasted for a very short period. The first phase of construction ended in 1315.
The present building is the result of other buildings and later extensions, completed between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Duke of Athens, Gualtieri VI of Brienne began the first changes in the period (1342-1343), and enlarges towards Via della Ninna and giving it the appearance of a fortress. Other important changes took place in the period 1440-60 under Cosimo de 'Medici, with the introduction of Renaissance decorations in the hall of the Two Hundred and the first courtyard of Michelozzo. The Salone dei Cinquecento was built by hand in 1494 during the Savonarola republic.

The residence of the Duke
Between 1540 and 1550 it was the home of Cosimo I de 'Medici, who commissioned Vasari to further expand the building to accommodate the needs of the ducal court. The yard was the site of key experiences for many artists, including Livio Agresti and Pier Paolo Menzocchi.
The palace thus doubled its volume as a result of the additions on the back. The last expansion dates from the late sixteenth century when Battista del Tasso and Bernardo Buontalenti settled back as it is today.

The name was officially changed when Cosimo moved to Palazzo Pitti in 1565 and called the former residence Palazzo Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria retained its name. Vasari also built a path, the Vasari Corridor, which even today connects Palazzo Vecchio to the Pitti Palace across the Arno on the Ponte Vecchio. Cosimo I also moved the government administration and the judiciary in the adjacent Uffizi.

Contemporary history
The palace gained new importance when it was the seat of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy in the period 1865-71, when Florence became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
Most of the Palazzo Vecchio is now a museum, but it has remained the symbol of the local government, being in fact even now the town of Florence and the city council.

The exterior
The main facade gives the impression of solidity also thanks to the external finish in pietraforte rustication. It is divided into three main floors by cornices, which highlight two neo-Gothic marble mullioned windows files with trefoil arches, added in the eighteenth century to replace the original ones.
The old part is crowned by a projecting balcony supported by corbels of round arches and characterized by a type of Guelph battlements (with the square top), while the tower has a swallow-tailed merlons ( "dovetail"). Each beccatello was decorated by a sculpted head, human or animal, of which some bronze copies still remain visible. Some of these arches are fitted with trap doors that could be used for defensive purposes, to lay out any invaders boiling oil or stones.
In the four corners of the gallery were many niches with stone marzocchi. The French window and balcony were added later.

The Arnolfo tower
The tower of Palazzo Vecchio was built in 1310 when the body of the building was almost finished. Post on the facade (inspired probably to Castello dei Conti Guidi in Poppi), leans only partly to the underlying masonry, presenting the front side built completely in false (ie, protruding with respect to the underlying structures) with an architectural solution together daring and aesthetically satisfactory.

High around 94 meters, the tower is not centered on the facade but is decentralized to the south side of the same (to the right for those frontally look at the building) because it is based on an existing tower house belonged to Foraboschi called "the Cow" because of nickname saddled by the Florentines the big bell that surmounted (the nearby street that connects Piazza della Signoria in via Por Santa Maria is called more and Vacchereccia because of this bell). The presence of the tower is still distinguishable from the walled boxes that appear on the underlying front of Arnolfo tower.
The body of the tower, in addition to stairs, has a small compartment called the Alberghetto within which prisoners were held, among others, Cosimo il Vecchio before being exiled (1433) and Girolamo Savonarola before being hanged and burned in the square May 23, 1498.
The landing of the bell, with battlements Ghibellines (dovetail), is supported by corbels with pointed arches, above which rests a kiosk with round arches supported by four massive columns masonry surmounted by capitals in leaves. In the cell three bells are attached:

- The Martinella, which recalls the Florentines to meeting,
- The noon bell,
- The bell chimes (the largest).

Around one of the columns you can see the spiral staircase that allows to climb on the roof.
On the top there is a large vane (more than two meters in height) in the shape of Marzocco holding the rod surmounted by orris: it is a copy, the original can be seen in all its magnitude within of the building.
Looking at the shelves that support the balcony of the tower from the bottom you have the strange feeling that those corner do not rest on anything, like small inverted pyramids is a curious optical effect caused by shadows at the edges.
The big clock was originally built by the fiorentino Nicolò Bernardo, but replaced in 1667 by one realized by Giorgio Lederle of Augusta and mounted by Vincenzo Viviani, which is still in working order.