London, Henry S. King & Co., 1877; Transcribed and Photographed, Carolyn Carpenter




Chapter XV:  Palazzo Vecchio della Signoria - Exterior and Tower

The Gonfalonier and priors who constituted the government of the Florentine Republic, had their first residence in a building attached to the Monastery of the Badia, or Abbey of Florence; for a short time they inhabited the Palace of the PodestÓ, or Bargello, from whence they again removed to the private dwellings of the Cerchi family, on the northern side of the Piazza della Signoria, behind the suppressed church of San Romolo.  But in times of turbulence it became necessary to provide a place of greater security for the chief magistracy of the city, and the Priors stipulated that the new palace should be enclosed by strong walls and bastions, to protect their persons from the violence of the citizens and nobles.  Arnolfo di Cambio was the architect employed, and the first edifice was, in accordance with his design, a perfect parallelogram crowned by square-shaped battlements, the sign of the Guelphic party.131
Later additions have converted the building into its present irregular shape.  The popular tradition that the unoccupied ground was once the site of the Uberti palaces which had been destroyed by the Guelphs, who decreed that no part of the new edifice should stand on ground so desecrated, is not historically true.

The southern front of the Palazzo Vecchio at first abutted on the old basilica of San Piero Scheraggio; and, in order to isolate the palace, the northern aisle of the church, which was on the site of the present Via della Ninna, was demolished in 1410.  The name of this street was derived from a chapel within the aisle, dedicated to the Madonna della Compagnia della Ninna, one of the numerous confraternities of Florence.  To the east of the Palazzo is still the Via de' Leoni, near which stood the Serragli, or Preserve for the Lions of the Republic.  Leslie, the Scotch historian, relates that, among other benefits Charlemagne conferred on Florence, was the restoration of her liberty, which the Florentines owed to the intercession of William, a brother of the king of Scotland, who accompanied the Emperor to Italy; and he adds, that the Florentine Government, as a mark of their gratitude, ordered that a certain number of lions should be maintained at the cost of the Republic, in remembrance of the country of their benefactor, the lion being the badge of Scotland:132 this was probably the more acceptable to the Florentines, as the Marzocco, or seated lion, was already the emblem of their city.

Some idea of the Palazzo Vecchio, with its ante-port, may be obtained from a curious old fresco which still exists, though in a damaged condition, on the wall of the staircase of the old Debtor's Prison, the "Stinche."  It is attributed to Giottino, a scholar of the celebrated Giotto, and the subject is the Expulsion of Walter, Duke of Athens, from Florence.  Another fresco, by Domenico Ghirlandajo, in the Sassetti Chapel of the church of the SS. TrinitÓ,133 exhibits the palazzo as it stood one hundred and fifty years later.

The houses of the Vacca family were among those incorporated into the new building, and Arnolfo adopted the tower of their private dwelling to form the substructure of his still loftier tower.  This, however, obliged him to place the Campanile on one side of the building; it rises to the height of 160 braccie, upwards of 330 feet, over the city.  The great bell within preserved the name of "La Vacca," and its sound was popularly compared to the lowing of the cow - "la vacca mugghia," "the cow lows."  The Via Vaccareccia, which connects the piazza with the Via Por San Maria, derives its name from the same source.134

At one time there appear to have been several bells, though they were not all suspended within the tower, for some were hung on a level with the battlements of the main building.  In 1344, one of these, which was always rung to summon the people to the Piazza, was transferred from the battlements to the tower that it might be heard by the inhabitants of Oltr' Arno (that part of Florence which lies south of the river).  The principal bell, called "La Campana del Leone," "The Lion's Bell," was placed here in 1350.  It weighed 17,000 lbs., and was cast in the best metal, producing a very harmonious sound.  This bell was rung unceasingly on the announcement of a victory, as well as on the celebration of marriages.  It was heard for the last time in August, 1530, when it summoned a parliament composed of the Palleschi, or Medicean faction, for which misdemeanour, or treasonable act against the Republic, it was hurled into the piazza, where it broke into a thousand fragments.

The visitor to Florence is well repaid for ascending to the summit of the lofty battlemented tower, surmounted by the standard bearing the favourite badge of the lion.  Beneath the shadow of the rugged old palazzo the vines, olives, and cypresses form in spring-time an agreeable contrast to the brilliant green of the young corn.  The prospect is bounded on the north by the heath-clad shoulder of Monte Morello and the more distant Apennines; to the east by the chestnut woods of Vallombrosa and the undulating hills in the direction of Arezzo; to the south by the lovely basilica of San Miniato al Monte and numberless villas and gardens; and to the west by the woods of the Cascine and the wide valley of the Arno flowing by Pisa to the Mediterranean.

A small marble tablet, inserted into the parapet of the tower has the following inscription: -

Christus Rex GloriŠ Venit in Pace
  Deus Homo Factus Est
  Et Verbum Caro Factum est
  Christus vincit, Christus Regnat
  Christus Imperat
Christus ab omnium malo nos defendat
Barbara Virgo Dei, modo memento mei.
The probable date of the composition is when the citizens, by the advice of the Gonfalonier, Nicol˛ Capponi, proclaimed Christ king over the Republic.  St. Barbara is here invoked as the saint of towers and protectress against storms.135 The swallow-tailed Ghibelline battlements at the top of the tower are by some supposed to have been placed here by the republican Guelphic government as a proof of moderation and a desire to conciliate the opposite party.

Vasari relates that Arnolfo filled the interstices in the walls of the old Vacca Tower with cement and mortar, in order to give greater solidity to the upper part, and it was supposed that the superstructure was equally solid; but in 1814 an architect, Del Rosso, employed to make some alterations in the building, discovered a small dark chamber half-way up, since known as L'Alberghettino (the small hostelry), or La Barberia, and, a few steps below, another dungeon in the thickness of the wall, with a window, and a stone settle for a bed.  In one or both of these Cosimo Vecchio and Girolamo Savonarola were at different times imprisoned.

Cosimo was committed here in 1435 by the Albizzi faction then dominant over the Medici; and Macchiavelli describes how this merchant-prince was in such dread of poison that he resolved to abstain from all food, and how his jailor, Federigo Malavolti, introduced a Florentine wag, Farganaccio, into his cell who with some difficulty persuaded Cosimo to eat his supper.  When unobserved by the jailor, the prisoner gave Farganaccio a token which he desired him to convey without delay to the Treasurer of Santa Maria Nuova, by which token Cosimo empowered him to borrow eleven hundred ducats, one hundred of which he permitted Farganaccio to retain if he carried the remainder to the Gonfalonier, Bernardo Guadagni, with a request that he would without loss of time grant him an interview; the mission was faithfully executed, and Bernardo was persuaded to commute Cosimo's imprisonment into exile to Padua.136

It is with a sadder and more reverential feeling we recall the last hours of the other occupant of this tower-dungeon; for here the courageous but sensitive Girolamo Savonarola endured forty days' confinement; and here he lay during the intervals of torture, at times succumbing to acute bodily sufferings, but with unwavering faith in his sacred mission which sustained him through the final tragedy in the piazza.  This tower was applied to other barbarous purposes; for within the last few years and opening has been discovered on one of the steps which communicated through the whole height of the building with a well at the bottom, so that a prisoner descending the staircase could disappear, and the manner of his death remain an enigma to his friends and fellow-citizens.

A large clock was placed in the tower in 1334; it was constructed by Nicol˛ Bernardo, a Florentine; but in 1667 another clock was substituted, the work of Vincenzio Viviani, which was afterwards provided with a contrivance to render the hands visible at night.

The Palazzo della Signoria contained several official residences.  On the north side dwelt the Captain of the Fanti, or Infantry; this post was always given to a foreigner, by which was understood any one born beyond the limits of Florentine jurisdiction.  The Esecutore degli Ordini della Giustizia, or head of the police, was likewise always a foreigner; he resided n the southern quarter of the palace, and on the outside wall was hung the tamburo, or box to receive anonymous accusations, called tamburazione.  The office of Esecutore was created in 1300, to aid the government in enforcing obedience to the laws passed against the nobles; his duties, in some respects, resembled those of our Attorney-General; he relieved the Gonfalonier from a part of his labours, who thenceforth became simply President of the Council, whilst retaining his original title of Gonfaloniere della Giustizia.

The Serraglio, or enclosure in the palace, into which the lions were conveyed from their cages near the Guarda-Morto, was maintained there until, in 1550, Cosimo I removed these animals to a building in the Piazza di San Marco, where they were kept until 1777, when the public having ceased to care for them, they were finally discarded from Florence.

The rough stonework of the exterior, which is generally confined to the basement storey, covers the whole of this palace.  Mr. John Bell observes, on this style of building, "that these divisions and the coarse chiselling of the rubble-work is essential to the effect and composition; it gives colour, such as hatching in engraving.  The gravity and solemnity of the stately mass is thus ensured, and the glare of an ardent sun which often proves injuriously dazzling is corrected.  Were it not for this, such vast edifices as the Palaces of the Strozzi and Riccardi, smooth and fair as a villa, would present a tame and insipid front; vast without grandeur, and requiring columns or massive enrichments to give relief.  This building gives the bases apparent strength to support the weight below."

Looking upwards from the piazza at the small arches which support the external gallery, we perceive square apertures which occur most frequently immediately above the entrance, and are called spiombati, from the melted lead as well as stones which those within poured down on an attacking enemy.  Four stone lions, or Marzocchi, were attached to the angles of this covered gallery, but were removed, as they began to show signs of decay, and were considered dangerous to those passing beneath.  The shields of the Commonwealth are painted below the arches on which the galleries rest.  The upper gallery of the tower once contained the shields of the four quarters of the city - namely, Santo Spirito, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, and San Giovanni.  They were placed here after the expulsion of the Duke of Athens, and faced their respective districts;  most of them have, however, disappeared. Beneath the lower gallery are painted the arms of the Republic, nine in number, each of them repeated several times.
The shields of the four quarters of the city bore the following devices:

The Quarter of Santo Spirito. - A white dove on a blue field, with rays of gold issuing from the beak, and the four banners.  1.  A shell, two separate shields on a red field, one bearing the arms of the people, the other with five golden shells on a red field.  2.  The scourge:  a black scourge on a white field.  3.  A dragon:  a green dragon on a gold field.  4.  A ladder:  a black ladder on a red field.

The Quarter of Santa Croce. - 1.  A shield with a cross of gold on a blue field.  2.  Wheels:  a wheel of gold on a blue field.  3.  A bull:  a black bull on a golden field.  4.  A golden lion on a white field.

The Quarter of Santa Maria Novella. - 1.  A shield with a golden sun on a blue field.  2.  A red lion on a white field.  3.  A green viper on a golden field.  4.  A yellow unicorn on a blue field.

The Quarter of San Giovanni. - 1.  Shield with an octagon temple, golden colour on a blue field.  2.  Keys in compliment to those who belonged to the Sestiere of the Porta of San Piero.  Banners:  first, red keys on a golden field.  Second shield divided unequally; the upper portion red, the lower ermine.  3.  A green dragon on a golden field.  4.  A black lion on a blue field; a banner with the people's arms in his right paw.

The arms of the Republic are as follows: -

1. A white lily on a red field.  The giglio was the most ancient device of the city.
2. A shield divided perpendicularly in a red and white field.  The united arms of Florence and Fiesole.  On the day of San Romolo, 1010, the Fiesolans were surprised by the Florentines when preparing to celebrate the festa of their patron saint; and after the two cities had entered into a defensive league, the Florentines resigned their lily, and the Fiesolans their half-moon, leaving both fields vacant.
3. A red lily on a white field.  These arms of Florence, dating from 1250, created on the conclusion of a fray between Florence and Pistoia, when the Guelphic faction obtained the supremacy in Florence, and expelled the Ghibellines from the city.  The Ghibellines, however, retained the white lily, and added the imperial device of the double-headed eagle, which Dante alludes to as Il Santo Uccello or L' Uccello di Dio.  The poet also alludes, in the last lines of the 16th canto of the "Paradiso," to the change of colour in the shield, where he places the following words into the mouth of his ancestor, Caccia Guida:

"Con queste genti vid' io glorioso
E giusto il popol suo tanto, che il giglio
Non era ad asta, mai posto a ritroso
NŔ per division fatto vermiglio."

"With all these families beheld so just
And glorious her people, that the lily
Never upon the spear was placed reversed
Nor by division was vermilion made."
 Divine Comedy of Dante.  Trans., H. W. Longfellow.

4. A shield with the word LIBERTAS inscribed on a gold band drawn diagonally across a blue field.  This device belonged to the Priors of the Arts, and was adopted by the Republic about the close of the thirteenth century, when Florence threw off her subjection to the emperors.
5. A red cross on a white field. - The arms of the people when Giano della Bella was Gonfalonier della Giustizia.  The ancient standard of the Commonwealth, however, when borne aloft on the Caroccio in times of war, never changed its device of the red and white field which had been adopted after the union of Florence and Fiesole.
6. Two golden keys crossed on a blue ground. - The arms of the Church, bestowed by Pope Clement IV. in 1265, when the Guelphic party assisted Charles of Anjou, who was fighting against Manfred, the adherent of the Ghibelline faction.
7. An eagle trampling on a dragon with a small golden lily above the eagle's head. - This shield was also bestowed by Clement IV.  The golden lily was added later by the triumphant Guelphs.
8. Golden lilies on a blue field, and a golden portcullis. - The shield of Charles of Anjou, when in 1267 he was requested by the Florentine Guelphs to assume the signory of the city.  From this period the Angevine arms figured among those of the Republic, and the lilies scattered over the shield are the lilies of France; the portcullis, which ought properly to be coloured green, belonged to the second sons of the French kings.
9. A shield divided perpendicularly:  one side, golden lilies on a blue field; the other, red stripes on a golden field. - The arms of Robert of Anjou, King of Naples, who was appointed Signore, or Lord Paramount of the City, for five years, in 1313, when Florence was threatened by the Emperor henry VII.  The lilies are again those of France; the red stripes on the golden field are said to be the ancient arms of the Arragonese Kings of Naples, adopted by Robert when he married a daughter of Don Pedro of Arragon.  Some historians assert that these were first adopted by his son Charles of Calabria, who ruled the city for ten years.

The two upper tiers of windows are in the elegant form so common in Tuscan buildings; an arch divided by a column, with a trefoil above each compartment.  Michelozzo Michelozzi added the decoration of the cross and the lily, alternately, in bas-relief, within the triangle above the two arches.  The lower windows are large and square, with iron gratings.

The principal entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio has always been immediately beneath the tower.  A second entrance once existed on the eastern front in the Via de' Leoni; a third on the southern, in the Via della Ninna, where we still see traces of the lion rampant of the Duke of Athens; and a fourth, on the northern front near the fountain, where there is at present a grated window, surmounted by tabernacles resting on brackets; here formerly stood two lions similar to those above the principal entrance, all of which were once gilt, and were the work of an artist named Giovanni de' Nobile.  Besides these four entrances, there was a smaller door, now walled up, of which various traditions remain; it is supposed to have communicated with a well or pit, resembling that discovered in the tower, down which many a hapless victim of the Grand-Duke Cosimo I. was thrown.

Between the stone lions over the principal entrance, the royal arms of France were placed after the expulsion of the Medici in 1494, and here likewise was raised the shield of pope Leo X. to commemorate his accession to the papacy.  Both were removed in 1527, and a marble slab was substituted, on which was inscribed the monogram of Christ, surrounded by a glory.  This act is connected with an interesting passage in Florentine history.  The two youths, Ippolito and Alessandro de' Medici, with their guardian, Cardinal Passerini, had been exiled from Florence, when, in 1527, the city was threatened with their return by foreign aid.  The government of the Republic was at that time distracted by three factions.  That which desired the restoration of the Medici; the Libertini, or followers of Savonarola; and the Ottimati, who advocated a moderate but conservative policy whilst retaining the old republican form of government.  The Gonfalonier, Nicol˛ Capponi, belonged to this last party:  although an upright man, he neither possessed great capacity nor force of character, and when a report reached Florence that a league had been formed between Clement VII. and the Emperor Charles V., he hoped, by conciliatory measures, to avert the dangers threatening the Republic.  But, in order to prove his attachment to liberty and his abhorrence of tyranny, he proposed in council that Jesus Christ should be elected King of Florence, a pledge that the Florentines would accept no ruler but the King of Heaven.  The contemporary historian, Varchi, describes how the Gonfalonier, when presiding at this great council, on the 9th of February, 1527, repeated almost verbatim a sermon of the Frate (Savonarola), and then, throwing himself on his knees, exclaimed in a loud voice, echoed by the whole council "Misericordia;" and how he proposed that Christ the Redeemer should be chosen King of Florence.  The old chronicler Cambi further relates, that on the 10th of June of the following year, 1528, the clergy of the Cathedral met in the Piazza della Signoria, where an altar had been erected in front of the palace; the word Jesus was then disclosed before the assembled citizens, who finally accepted Him for their King.  The shields of France and of Pope Leo were accordingly removed from their place, and the name of the Saviour, on a tablet, was inserted over the entrance to the palace.  Until 1846 the monogram of Christ, with its accompanying inscription, had been concealed by a huge shield containing the grand-ducal arms; but when these were taken down, it was for the first time discovered that the original dedication to the Saviour had been altered to the words:  "Rex Regum Et Dominus Dominantium."

Count Luigi Passerini suggests that the Grand-Duke Cosimo may have substituted this inscription; perhaps because unwilling to share the sovereignty of Florence even with his Divine Master.137

In 1349, a wide stone platform was added in front of the palazzo, extending along the northern fašade.  From this ringhiera, as it was called,138 the Signory were wont to address the people assembled in the piazza beneath.  The parapet was probably adorned with paintings, since a record has been found, stating that in 1525 Andrea del Sarto and Bugiardini were employed to make designs for frescos, to replace those already decayed.  It was only in 1812, during the Napoleonic rÚgime, that the ringhiera was demolished.  The fašade of the building has thereby lost much in symmetry and proportion, as may be seen by consulting the copy of a curious old picture in the convent of St. Mark's, by an unknown artist, which, although evidently painted subsequently to the time of Savonarola, represents the piazza as it is supposed to have appeared on the 23rd May, 1498, when the Priors and Judges were seated on the ringhiera to witness the execution of their cruel sentence on Savonarola and his unfortunate brethren of San Marco.139

In 1377, an ancient Marzocco, or Lion of Florence, was placed at the northern angle of the ringhiera, nearly on the same spot as the present Marzocco, which is the work of Donatello.  The origin of the word Marzocco is very obscure; some philologists trace it to the East.  In Florence it has always been applied to a seated lion, one of whose paws rests on a shield, which bears the popular device of the giglio, or lily.140  The Marzocco was in early times crowned with a diadem of red and white enamel, set in gold, and bore a motto by the novellist, Franšesco Sacchetti: -

Corona porto, per la patria degna,
AcciochŔ libertÓ ciascun mantegna.141
On great occasions similar crowns were placed on the heads of the lions over the gate of the Palazzo del PodestÓ, now the Bargello.

To the left of the principal entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio once stood the colossal statue of David, by Michael Angelo, placed here in 1504, and popularly called "Il Gigante," the Giant.  The block of Carrara marble from which it was carved was originally intended for a colossal statue of a prophet, and had been blocked out by a certain Agostino di Guccio of Duccio, in 1464, but his work was not approved, and the marble lay encumbering the Opera del Duomo, until Jacopo Sansovino offered to form the shapeless block into a statue, on condition that he were allowed to add more marble if required for his design.  Michael Angelo, who had lately returned from Rome, struck with the fine quality of the stone, proposed himself to undertake the work, and to carve a statue out of the block as it lay, without any additions.  The Cathedral Board of Works gladly assented, and he at once began David, selecting this hero as a type of the defender of just government and of his country's rights.  In the first sketch, the shepherd-king had one foot resting on the head of Goliath, but finding that the marble did not admit of this attitude, Michael Angelo altered his design.142  He was resolved to admit no criticisms while the work was in progress, and therefore raised a scaffolding round the marble, in the Opera del Duomo.  In February, 1503, the statue was so far advanced that the Signory met in council to consider where it should be placed.  Artists were summoned from all parts of Italy to discuss the question, and it was finally decided to removed the group of Judith and Holofernes, and to accede to Michael Angelo's desire, David should stand in its place on the ringhiera.  The transport of this gigantic statue was a work of no small labour.  Giuliano di San Gallo, and his brother Antonio, or, as is supposed, Simone Pollaiolo, Il Cronaca, invented a wooden apparatus for the purpose, and it employed thirty men for four days to drag it to its destination.  The statue, when first placed on the ringhiera, had to be guarded from the attacks of envious artists.  When disclosed to public view, the Gonfalonier Pier Soderini observing that the nose was too large, Michael Angelo immediately mounted a ladder, chisel in hand, and pretending to make the desired alteration, he let fall some marble dust; then turning to the Gonfalonier, he inquired whether he was satisfied.  "It is better," was the reply, "you have given it expression;" upon which, as Vasari further relates, Michael Angelo descended the ladder with a smile of derision at those who affect learning and speak on subjects of which they are ignorant.  The statue gave complete satisfaction, and Soderini had a bronze case taken, which in 1508 he presented to the French ambassador in return for the good offices of Louis XII., who had counteracted the schemes of Piero de Medici, to recover power in Florence.  This bronze has disappeared, and probably perished during one of the numerous revolutions which have agitated France since that time.  In 1527 the left arm of David was broken by a stone, thrown from an upper window of the palace by those defending the precincts from the attempt of the Medici faction to force an entrance.  Vasari and a young sculptor, called Cecchino, afterwards better known as "Salviati," gathered up the fragments and presented them to the Grand-Duke Cosimo I., who had the arm repaired.  In later times this statue was severely criticised; but notwithstanding the meagreness of the figure, and the disproportioned size of the head, it is unquestionably a triumph of genius.  The great artist has not only overcome the difficulty of adapting to his purpose a block of marble which had baffled contemporary sculptors, but he produced a noble form in which he unites the simple attitude of the young shepherd with the dignity of the future king.  Our distinguished sculptor, the late John Gibson, exclaimed when contemplating David, "What a fine statue is the David!  How grand the spirit! how perfect the execution! and how free the whole from the mannerism into which Michael Angelo afterwards degenerated!"143 There is a tradition that Michael Angelo in his old age was in the habit of sitting on a chair placed to the right of the entrance of the palace, from which he could contemplate his favourite work; and here he amused himself by chiselling a profile, which may still be traced on the rough stone.144

Hercules and Cacus, by Baccio Bandinelli, executed in 1546, is very inferior to the statue of David.  Hercules is in the act of slaying a fabulous Italian robber-shepherd who had stolen some of his cattle.  The order for this group was first given to Michael Angelo, who made a small model of the subject; but, before he could execute it in marble, Clement VII. summoned him to Rome to finish his fresco of the Last Judgment. The task was consequently assigned to Baccio Bandinelli.  The block of marble had already been selected at Carrara by Michael Angelo.  Before reaching Florence, however, it fell into the Arno, and was with difficulty rescued from the mud and sand.  This accident drew forth the remark from a Florentine wit, that it had drowned itself voluntarily, rather than submit to be hacked by Bandinelli. Baccio had so many enemies in Florence, that the Grand-Duke Cosimo, before yielding to the request of Pope Clement VII., to place this group of Hercules in the piazza, was obliged to imprison some of the most inveterate of his persecutors, to insure the preservation of order.  The work is not wholly devoid of merit, though the artist's idea of strength is mere bulk.  According to Mr. John Bell, "heroic strength does not consist in vulgar squareness, but in grandeur of form, in energy, in fine, well-pronounced muscles, in putting the force in its right place (especially when displayed in action), and in dignity of attitude.  Consciousness, as it were, of irresistible power should be discernible in the posture and form of every part and position of the figure; square forms and limbs, muscles crowded and knotted together with a flat coarse face and rough hair, go but a little way in expressing strength."

On either side of the entrance to the palazzo are two marble terminal statues, properly called Baucis and Philomon, which were intended to support an iron chain placed in front of the gate.  These are also by Bandinelli, though the male figure changing into an oak, emblematic of the irresistible power of Tuscany, is sometimes attributed to his pupil, Vincenzio de' Rossi.  The female figure turning into a laurel with a diadem on her head, is symbolical of Tuscan grace displayed in Nature and Art.

The cortile of the palazzo is surrounded by a colonnade of massive octagonal pillars, eight feet in circumference, with varied capitals.  In 1434 the original columns of brick began to sink, and it was considered necessary to remove them and to substitute others.  This difficult task was entrusted to the celebrated architect Michelozzo Michelozzi, who had that year returned with Cosimo de' Medici from exile.  Great care and skill were required, as the whole edifice rests on this colonnade; but the work was performed in a manner which justified the reputation of the artist.  He at the same time embellished the windows of the palazzo, inhabited by Gonfaloniers and Priors, and added eight chambers for their accommodation, as until that time the Priors had been obliged to share one sleeping room.  The stucco ornaments on the nine columns round the cortile was an addition made in 1565, when Francis de' Medici, the son of Cosimo I., was united to Joanna Archduchess of Austria, sister of the Emperor Maximilian, and niece of Charles V.  The ground of the stucco ornaments was originally gilt, but the gold has long since disappeared; traces of the fresco painting on the vaulting and walls, however, still remain, representing various cities in Germany, whilst in the lunettes above are copies of medals, which commemorate the victories of Duke Cosimo.

On either side of the arch leading to the great staircase are two inscriptions, one in Latin, the other in Italian.  The former is a welcome to the princess, the latter contains the date of the construction of the cortile, and a list of those artists who have at various times either added to, or embellished the building, among whom appear Andrea Pisano, Michelozzo Michelozzi, Il Cronaca, Bandinelli, Baccio d; Agnolo, Giuliano di San Gallo, and Vasari.  In the centre of this cortile is a fountain composed of a porphyry bason executed by Tadda in 1555.145 In the middle of the bason, perched upon a pedestal, stands the small bronze figure of a boy grasping a dolphin, by Andrea Verocchio.  From the nostrils of the fish flows water, brought hither from the Boboli Gardens by pipes across the Ponte Vecchio.  This graceful little statue seems to give sunshine to the sombre court.  It was cast for Lorenzo de' Medici, to decorate a fountain in his villa of Careggi, but was transferred to his present position by Duke Cosimo.  Rumohr says, "It is impossible to behold anything more joyous and animated than the expression of the countenance and action of this boy; it is difficult to find a modern bronze of such fine materials.  The action seems half flying, half springing, and notwithstanding that the position is much inclined forward, it is evident that it is not out of its proper balance.  The artist has placed the roundness of infancy in happy juxtaposition with the angular lines produced by the wings of the boy, as well as by the fish."146



Arnolfo di Lapo died 1310
Bugiardini died 1556
Cosimo Vecchio imprisoned 1433
Esecutore della Giustizia appointed 1300
Francis I., Grand-Duke, married Joanna of Austria 1565
Hercules and Cacus statue, by Baccio Bandinelli 1546
Jesus Christ chosen King of Florence 1528


131 See Introductory Chapter, Part II.
132 See Napier's "Florentine History," vol. i. p. 30.
133 The Palazzo Vecchio appears in the compartment of the fresco where Honorius grants the rules of the Order to St. Francis.
134 See preceding chapter, p. 230.
135 See Life of St. Barbara, "Legendary Art," by Mrs. Jameson.
136 See Macchiavelli, "Storie Fiorentine," lib. Quart., p. 200; also "The History of the Commonwealth of Florence," by T. A. Trollope, vol. iii. p. 62.
137 See "CuriositÓ Storico Artistiche Fiorentine," del Conte Luigi Passerini.
138 Ringhiera, or "rostrum," a word derived from arringara - "to harrangue."
139 See illustration at the beginning of this chapter.
140 In the Sala del Orologio, within the Palazzo Vecchio, there is a grotesque Marzocco, a cast of an old monument, in which the lion's paw rests on a human head.  At Cutigliano, a small town in the Apennines, above Pistoia, there is an equally grotesque Marzocco on a pillar in front of the town-hall; the lion's paw in this monument also rests on a human head.

 I bear a crown worthy of my country,
 In order that all should maintain liberty.
142 The wax model, the design for this statue, is preserved in his house, Casa Buonarotti, Via Ghibellina.
143 See Harford's "Life of Michael Angelo," vol. i. p. 224.
144 This statue has been removed to the Academy.
145 See page 130.
146 See Rumohr, "Ricerche Italiane," vol. ii. pp. 303, 304.

Chapter XVI:  Palazzo Vecchio della Signoria (Continuation) - Interior


ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING: Embroidering of Pomegranates: Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Courtship || Casa Guidi italiano/English || Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Aurora Leigh || Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Florence: || Preface  italiano/English || Poetry  italiano/English || Laurel Garland: Women of the Risorgimento || Death and the Emperor in the Poetry of Dante, Browning, Dickinson and Stevens|| Enrico Nencioni on Elizabeth Barrett Browning italiano ||

THE ENGLISH CEMETERY IN FLORENCE: Tuoni di silenzio bianco/ Thunders of White Silence italiano/English || The English Cemetery, Piazzale Donatello, Florence: || Il Cimitero degli Inglesi italiano || Cemetery I Tombs A-E || Cemetery II Tombs D-L || Cemetery III Tombs M-Z ||

FLORENCE IN SEPIA: Florence I. Santa Trinita to Santa Croce || Florence I Appendix. The Uffizi || Florence II. North-Eastern Quarter || Florence III. Oltr'Arno || Other Tuscan Cities in Sepia || Italy in Sepia || Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Florence || Susan and Joanna Horner, Walks in Florence|| Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, Notes in Florence|| Francesca Alexander || Augustus J.C. Hare, Florence || Augustus Hare, Edwardian Travel Writer || Florence's Libraries and Museums || Museums Thoughts||

AGNES MASON, C.H.F.: Agnes Mason, C.H.F., Anglican Mother Foundress || Agnes Mason's Patron Saints || Saints Cecilia and Agnes || Augustus Hare, Edwardian Travel Writer || Holmhurst St Mary ||  I fratelli Alinari: Florentine Photographers] ||

Portfolio || Florin: Non-Profit Guide to Commerce in Florence || Maps of Florence