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Looking past the sculpture to the left of the doorway as we exit the Palazzo, we see the Loggia dei Lanzi, composed of a series of three arches, which were begun in 1356 by Benci di Cione, and completed in 1382. The three arches were to be the beginning of an intended massive urban planning project, in which the arcade was to completely surround the Piazza della Signoria. Some writers have suggested this would have been the most magnificent arcaded town square in all of Italy. It might also have been one of the most boring. Sometimes too much of a good thing defeats the intended purpose. Variety provides interest; unceasing repetition does not.

Framed inside one of the three arches, we find the sculpture of Perseus cutting off the head of Medusa - a rather graphic representation of a Greek myth (surely earning a "V" for violent).


Between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi is the Piazzale degli Uffizi, a space bounded by a three-sided building, which some call the Uffizi Palace. The Uffizi Gallery is now a major museum featuring, among many other treasures, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci (there are very, very few). The building actually began life as an office annex to the Palazzo Vecchio ("uffizi" mean "offices").

The end of the Uffizi Gallery bordering the River Arno looks somewhat like a Roman arch of triumph. The facades are in typical Florentine contrast of materials, with a gray pietra serena stone set against white stucco. This is in the Italian character of chiaroscuro: light and shade. Cosimo I's successor, Francesco I, began the collection of art that now comprises the magnificent Uffizi Art Galleries. More next semester.

© Architecture Past Present & Future - Edward D. Levinson, 2009

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