TUSCANY – “Dolce Vita” in an Old Land
The Loggia dei Lanzi, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Underneath the bay on the far left is the bronze statue of Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini. It shows the mythical Greek hero holding his sword in his right hand and holding up triumphantly the Medusa’s decapitated head in his left. The well-proportioned muscular body of Perseus stands poised on the right leg. Perseus is subdued, holding back his emotions. Blood is gushing from the head and the neck of the dead Medusa. The richly decorated marble pedestal, equally by Cellini, shows four graceful bronze statuettes of Jupiter, Mercurius, Minerva and Danaë. The bas-relief on the pedestal, representing Perseus freeing Andromeda, is a copy of the one in Bargello.
The Loggia dei Lanzi, also called the Loggia della Signoria, is a building on a corner of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy, adjoining the Uffizi Gallery. It consists of wide arches open to the street, three bays wide and one bay deep. The arches rest on clustered pilasters with Corinthian capitals. The wide arches appealed so much to the Florentines, that Michelangelo even proposed that they should be continued all around the Piazza della Signoria.
Sometimes erroneously referred to as Loggia dell’ Orcagnabecause it was once thought to be designed by that artist, it was built between 1376 and 1382 by Benci di Cione and Simone di Francesco Talenti, possibly following a design by Jacopo di Sione, to house the assemblies of the people and hold public ceremonies1, such as the swearing into office of the Gonfaloniers and the Priors. Simone Talenti is also well-known from his contributions to the churches Orsanmichele and San Carlo.
The vivacious construction of the Loggia is in stark contrast with the severe architecture of the Palazzo Vecchio. It is effectively an open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art.
The name Loggia dei Lanzi dates back to the reign of Grand Duke Cosimo I, when it was used to house his formidable landsknechts (In Italian: “Lanzichenecchi”, corrupted to Lanzi), or German mercenary pikemen. After the construction of the Uffizi at the rear of the Loggia, the Loggia’s roof was modified by Bernardo Buontalenti and became a terrace from which the Medici princes could watch ceremonies in the piazza.