Tom and I split up this morning. I decide to try the Palazzo Vecchio, which my wife, Pam, and I missed in December. He heads for the Bargello Museum to satisfy his lust for statuary.
The Palazzo Vecchio is unimpressive from the outside, but very impressive on the inside. In my opinion, its contents are more interesting from an historical point of view rather than from an artistic one.
As I wander around, I realize that even the wealthy Medici's lived in circumstances that today's average American middle class family would totally reject. Even the Medicis eventually moved to the more posh Palazzo Pitti.
Palazzo Vecchio, or as it is sometimes called, Palazzo della Signoria, was cobbled together starting in the 13th century and ending in the 16th. The final stage was sponsored by Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, who moved into the palace with all his family. It has served as both living quarters and government offices since then, including as the seat of United Italy’s provisional Government from 1865 until 1871, when the national government moved to Rome. Today, the palace contains the city council offices, which do not seem to inhibit the stream of visitors. One of the most impressive rooms, the Hall of the Two Hundred, is being used for the meetings of the city council. Fortunately, they weren’t meeting when I visited.
There are literally hundreds of frescoes scattered throughout the building. Some of the more impressive "frescoed" rooms are the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Two Hundred), the Study of Francesco I, the apartments of Leo X, Cosimo I’s wife, Eleonora’s apartments, and the Rooms of the Elements. The Palazzo also contains some sculptural masterpieces from the Renaissance, including the "Genius of Victory" by Michelangelo and the bronze "Judith and Holofernes" by Donatello. Tom isn’t the only one who gets to see some outstanding statues.
In retrospect, I wish I had purchased a guide book at the gift shop, as I got somewhat confused as to what I was looking at and how it fit in historically. I underestimated how interesting and worthwhile visiting the palace was going to be.
Entry costs about 7€. It has odd opening hours, which is why Pam and I missed it in December. I made sure it would be open this morning before I came here. I do believe that it is open, for sure, every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 7pm.