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The ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

The Salone dei Cinquecento was built in 1495, during the period of restauration of the Florentine Repubblic (after the expulsion of Piero de’ Medici in 1494), by Simone del Pollaiuolo called “il Cronaca” (1457-1508) he was assisted by Francesco di Domenico and by Antonio da Sangallo.

The enormous Hall was built for wanting of the friar Girolamo Savonarola, to its inside were accommodates the representatives of the Greater Council (formed from 500 members), that was the organ of government of the city and that was composed from all the males citizens who were more than 29 years old, paid the taxes and belonged to families that had covered governmental functions in the last three generations.

The realization of the Hall was completed in February 1496. Subsequently, under the government of Pier Soderini, between 1503 and 1504, the Florentine Republic felt the need to celebrate their own military victories through the realization of two immense frescoes that would have had to decorate the walls of the Hall.

It was decided of giving the assignment to Michelangelo Buonarroti to which the realization of Battaglia of Cascina was entrusted (this battles was won from the Florentine army against Pisa in 1364) and to Leonardo from Vinci to which the realization of the scene of Battaglia di Anghiari was entrusted (this was an important victory of Florence against the Milan army in 1440).

Il Salone dei Cinquecento, Palazzo Vecchio, Firenze, Italia. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

The Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

Nobody of the two renaissance geniuses carried to term the job, Michelangelo realized only a starting cardboard of its work, Leonardo instead painted the central scenes of its immense fresco in the east wall of the Hall, his work seems that has gone lost, even if recent studies make to suppose that an interstice exists between the actual frescoes of the Vasari and the old wall, what that go to hope that the Vasari, from the intelligent person which he was, have not destroyed the Leonardo’s frescos, but he has preferred to hide it in order to conserve it.

It will be the Vasari, in fact, in 1563 that realize the actual battles scenes, and here Vasari has left us another hope, it has written on a banner of his fresco of this wall the words “Cerca Trova” (Search and Find) which has nothing to do with the scene that he painted, but that says a lot if we think about the disappeared Leonardo’s painting.

The hall is imposing, measure 52 meters for 23 meters. The scenes of the battles painted by Vasari represent: the conquest of Siena, the capture of Porto Ercole, the victory of Cosimo in Marciano della Chiana, the defeat of the pisansi in San Vincenzo, the attack to Livorno by Massimilian of Austria and Pisa attacked from the Florentine troops. The ceiling instead represents, in 39 panels, the more important episodes of the life of Cosimo I, the districts of the city and in the center the scene of the appointment of Cosimo I to Granduca of Tuscany. Besides of the walls six statues are placed between which the Genius of the Victory, masterpiece of Michelangelo.

The visit continues in the Study of Francesco I de’ Medici.