The first courtyard of Palazzo Vecchio was built in the first half of 14th century and then modified by Michelozzo in 15th century, he replaced the pillars with cylindrical and octagonal columns and built the loggiato.
In the second half of 16th century all the palace endured important modification jobs executed by Vasari for wanting of Cosimo I de’ Medici.
The courtyard of Palazzo Vecchio was decorated, in occasion of the wedding between Francesco de’ Medici and Giovanna of Austria (1565), with plasters and paintings of Austrians cities, in honor of the spouse.
In the center of the courtyard is the fontana of Francesco del Tadda (1555-57) with a reproduction of putto and the dolphin of Andrea del Verrocchio (Andrea di Michele di Francesco Cioni) of 1470 (the original is inside Palazzo Vecchio in the quarter of the Elements).
Cosimo I de’ Medici entrusted to the artists Lorenzo Marignolli and Santi Buglioni the covering of the columns with golden stucco decorations, while the vault was embellished by Marco da Faenza.
The walls of the courtyard were decorated in 1565, for wanting of Cosimo I de’ Medici, in occasion of the wedding between Francisco de’ Medici and Giovanna of Austria with the views of the cities of the Austrian empire: Praga, Passago (Passau), Stain, Closterneburg (Klosterneuburg), Vienna, Innsbruck, Ebersdorf, Costentz (Costanza), Neustadt and Hall (Ala).
The paintings, that were for the greater part execute to dry, are work of Bastiano Veronese, Giovanni Lombardi, Cesare Baglioni and Turino di Piemonte. On the top of every view are the coats of arms of city and the name in German, while low is name in Italian.
The ovals over the paintings of the cities represents important episodes of the government of Cosimo I. On the east wall of the courtyard is an inscription in Latin, painted for welcoming the future spouse. In a niche in the wall lies a statue of Sanson and the Philistine work of Pierino da Vinci, nephew of Leonardo da Vinci, dead at only 23 years old.
Went beyond the frescoed courtyard we entered in a second courtyard, known also as “La Dogana” (Custom) , it has massive pillars constructed in 1494 from the Cronaca in order to support the “Salone dei Cinquecento” at the second floor. In this courtyard it’s the weathercock of the Marzocco, in the past placed on the top of the Arnolfo tower.
Between the two courtyards are the two monumental staircases built by Giorgio Vasari with the flight of access to the upper floors of Palazzo Vecchio, that carry to the Salone dei Cinquecento and then to the Quartieri Monumentali.
We continue the visit in the Salone dei Cinquecento.