Loggia dei Lanzi
The elegant loggia at the corner of Piazza Signoria where it runs into the Uffizi is an open-air art gallery. The lovely structure was started in 1376 and finished in 1382 by the Republic of Florence. It was placed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio for civic ceremonies and assemblies. The loggia has an arcade of three arches and is capped by a terrace that was used by the ruling class and nobles as a roof garden for evenings of music and banquets.
The loggia bears four inserts depicting the four virtues embedded on blue backgrounds: Fortitude, Temperance, Justice and Prudence. Inside are Gothic-style vaults. But the main reason to visit is to see the incredible sculptures housed here. Nine treasures are still standing under the vaults as an open-air sculpture garden, overlooking the piazza and the fountain of Neptune. The best-known works are Cellini's Perseus holding the head of Medusa, and Giambologna's incredible Rape of the Sabine, an amazingly life-like sculpture. The natural vein of the marble is visible, a flaw Giambologna discovered only after starting on the masterpiece; he chose to continue with the marble rather than begin anew. A lion guards the entrance to the loggia.
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Address in Florence:
Via della Ninna, 1.