9:00 to 19:00 and 9:00 to 14:00 on Thursdays; Price €6
Tel. 055 2768224
Palazzo Vecchio is one of my
favorite sightseeing attractions in Firenze. This “Old Palace”
has a magnitude to it that is only rivaled by our modern skyscrapers.
Its bell tower reaches up into the sky as a symbol of Florentine
might. The square in front of it has been the center of Florentine
society for many centuries. I can imagine a young Michelangelo being
taunted by Leonardo da Vinci, (It is well known that they were rivals,
not friends) right in the square! In fact, if you go to the corner
of the Palazzo Vecchio, the one nearest to the Uffizi Gallery, you
will find a carving of a man’s face. The legend says that
it was carved by Michelangelo on a dare, that he couldn’t
carve a likeness of a man while chiseling behind his back. This
is the only sculpture by Michelangelo that you can actually touch.
Palazzo Vecchio has been many things during its 700 year existence.
Mostly it has been the seat of power for the Florentine government,
a role that it still holds today as city hall. A large portion of
the immense building is used for government offices, but most of
it is open to the public in the form of a museum. You can see the
incredible power of the Medici Family, who were the leaders of Florence
for several centuries. In the Great Hall, as you enter the museum,
you can see the beautiful and imposing military scenes depicted
on the two long walls which was designed by Giorgio Vasari, who
was the architect of the Ufizzi as well as a great Art Historian.
He wrote “The Lives of the Artists”, which is a must
read for anyone who is interested in the art of the Renaissance.
These scenes show the domination of local cities such as Pisa and
Siena. It is hard to believe that these peaceful towns were once
at war with Florence. Before the war scenes were in place, there
was another kind of battle that took place in this room. It was
a competition between Michelangelo and Leonardo. Each was given
a wall to design a fresco, showing Florentine domination in battle.
As the story goes, Michelangelo made a “cartoon” on
several large pieces of paper, which would be then transferred onto
the wall, of Florentine soldiers caught of guard while bathing,
right before a surprise attack. In the design, called “The
Battle of Cascina”, the soldiers are almost all nude, some
getting dressed, all in apprehension for the upcoming fight. The
drawing showed all of Michelangelo's skill as a draftsman, and his
incredible knowledge of the human figure. The fresco was never made
because Leonardo, who was not fond of the fresco technique, tried
to fix his finished painting of “The Battle of Anghiari”
to the wall using incredible heat. It was a technique which was
supposedly lost from antiquity. Leonardo tried his best to reproduce
the correct amount of heat, but alas the painting was ruined and
Leonardo was sent away from Firenze in shame. Needless to say the
competition was called off and Michelangelo never made his fresco.
The drawing by Michelangelo was studied for years until it was finally
destroyed and taken apart piece by piece by the followers of Michelangelo.
So from the competition, nothing remains. Continuing on in the Museum
you climb the stairs to see the Great Hall from above. Following
along the museum, glorious rooms depict the life and times of the
Medici Family from when they lived in Palazzo Vecchio. Keep walking
up, all the way to the top to see some of the best views of Florence.
From the top floor, the Duomo looms larger than life, and the red
roofs span out into the landscape.
One of the best attractions
about this museum is that it is open on Mondays while the Uffizi
and Accedemia are closed, so plan your trip wisely and go on a Monday
to Palazzo Vecchio.
Article by Matthew
©2006-2009, Matthew Bates,
All rights reserved, No reproduction of any of the contents of this
page is allowed without written approval by Matthew Bates
Visit Matthew Bates Original
Oil Painting Galleries:
Life - Cityscapes
Portrait of a man sculpted
by Michelangelo on a dare (Near the front entrance of Palazzo
Entrance Where Michelangelo's Original David once stood, it
has been replaced by its copy on the left.
in the entrance courtyard
of a painting by Matthew Bates)
of the Rape of the Sabine by Gian Bologna, seen from the Loggia