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Loggia della Signoria or Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Loggia della Signoria (Loggia dei Lanzi): an open-air museum unique in the world

Loggia della Signoria, also called Loggia dei Lanzi due to guard German mercenaries (in Italian: “Lanzichenecchi”, corrupted to Lanzi) who was stationed here in the sixteenth century, was built in the fourteenth century through the work of Simone di Francesco Talenti, Lorenzo di Filippo and Benci di Cione. The Loggia in origin served to house the assemblies of the people and hold public ceremonies and the official ceremonies of the Florentine Republic, like those of takeover of the lordships. The Loggia overlooks the Piazza della Signoria.

On the façade of the Loggia, placed in correspondence of the columns of the arches, are four trefoils with allegorical figures of the four cardinal virtues by Agnolo Gaddi (1383-1386). Starting from the 1500’s, for wanting of the de’ Medici family, the Loggia was destined to receive some masterpieces of the sculpture, becoming one of the first open-air sculpture gallery spaces in the world.

In the 1500’s the Loggia became used from the gran dukes of Tuscany for the festivity of the Homages of the cities subject to Florence. During this period in the Loggia were the statues of Judith and Holofernes (1455-1460) by Donatello (today in Palazzo Vecchio), of Perseus (1545-1554) by Benvenuto Cellini, of the Rape of the Sabine Women (1581-1583) by Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne). In 1583, at conclusion of the palace of the Uffizi, Bernardo Buontalenti created on the top of the Loggia, a terrace from which the Medici princes could watch ceremonies in the square, terrace, today part of the bar of the Uffizi’s museum.

Perseo di Benvenuto Cellini. Loggia della Signoria o Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Firenze, Italia. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini. Loggia della Signoria or Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

At the end of 18th century the Lorena’s transferred to the Loggia from Villa Medici in Rome, the statues of two Lions (one a roman fragment, the other carved by Flamino Vacca on a roman capitals) beyond to six statues of roman women. In 1841 was placed in the center of the Loggia Hercules beating the Centaur Nessus of the Giambologna and the ancient group of Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus, in 1866 was added also to The Rape of Polyxena by Pio Fedi.

Today the Loggia della Signoria keeps invaluable sculpture masterpiece, all original, and enjoyed freely day and night. It is effectively a marvellous open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art. The following are the sculptures in the Loggia:

Il Ratto delle Sabine del Giambologna, Loggia della Signoria o Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Firenze, Italia. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini,

The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna in the background Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia della Signoria or Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini,

1) LION (1594-1598), marble work by Flaminio Vacca (Rome 1538- Rome 1605). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

2) PERSEUS (1545-1554), bronze work by Benvenuto Cellini (Florence 1500-Florence 1571). The statue is under the Loggia since 1554. The original of the base is at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello.

3) PIRRO RAPES POLYXENA (1860-1865), marble work by Pio Fedi (Viterbo 1816-Florence 1892). The statue is under the Loggia since 1865.

4) ROMAN LADY called SABINE, marble work of trajan-hadrian age (beginning of 2th century after Christ). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

5) ROMAN LADY called SABINE, marble work of trajan-hadrian age (beginning of 2th century after Christ). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

La Loggia della Signoria o Loggia dei Lanzi vista dal portone di Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Firenze, Italia. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Loggia dei Lanzi or Loggia della Signoria view from the front door of the Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

6) BARBARIAN PRISONIER called THUSNELDA, marble work of trajian-hadrian age (beginning of 2th century after Christ). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

7) MENELAUS SUPPORTING THE BODY OF PATROCLUS, copy of flavian age of a Greek original of 240-230 bC. In 1570 it was placed near Ponte Vecchio, in 1741 it was placed under the Loggia.

8) ROMAN LADY called SABINE with marble portrait of Matilda, marble work of trajan-hadrian age (beginning of 2th century after Christ). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

9) ROMAN LADY called SABINE, marble work of trajan-hadrian age (beginning of 2th century after Christ). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

10) ROMAN LADY called SABINE, marble work of trajan-hadrian age (beginning of 2th century after Christ). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

Ercole in lotta con il centauro Nesso del Giambologna. Loggia della Signoria o Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Firenze, Italia. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Hercules fighting the centaur Nessus by Giambologna. Loggia della Signoria or Loggia dei Lanzi, Piazza della Signoria, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

11) HERCULES FIGHTING THE CENTAUR NESSUS (1594-1599), marble work by Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne) (Douai, France 1524-Florence 1608) with the help of Pietro Francavilla (Cambrai 1546 ?-Paris 1615). In origin in the Canto dei Carnesecchi, in 1841 was placed under the Loggia.

12) LATIN INSCRIPTION (1750), in marble commemorating the change of the Florentine calendar in 1749 to bring it into line with the Roman calendar. The Florentine calendar began on 25 March instead of 1 January.

13) INSCRIPTION (1893), in marble records the Florentines who distinguished themselves during the independence wars (1848-1870).

14) RAPE OF THE SABINE WOMEN (1581-1583), marble and bronze work by Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne) (Douai, France 1524-Florence 1608). The statue is under the Loggia since 1583.

15) LION, marble work (2th century after Christ). Coming from Villa Medici in Rome, it reached Florence in 1787, in 1789 it was placed under the Loggia.

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