on August 11, 2004
Palazzo Vecchio (the Old Palace) open Mon – Wed, Fri: 9am–7pm; Thursday, Sun 9am–2pm; entrance: €6.
Bear in mind that in addition to casual visit Palazzo Vecchio offers several interesting tours. The Activities Tour ticket includes the Secret Routes and Invitation to the Court tours. First allows you to visit stairwells tucked in the walls behind beautiful paintings, an area between the ceiling and the roof of the Salon, and the private chambers of Duke Cosimo I. Invitation to the Court , conducted by a guide playing Eleonora di Toledo, includes re-enactment of Medici Court life. The Encounter with Giorgio Vasari tours through the Monumental Apartments (I believe it will cost you €2 extra per tour).
Back to the palace though. The building was designed by Arnoldo di Cambio and built in 1299 – 1304. The clock was added in 1667 and still ticks (I wish I had a watch that good). Palazzo Vecchio served as the home of the Signoria, the Florence government until 1540, when Cosimo I, Duke of Florence – moved in from the Palazzo Medici. But his wife Eleonora did not like Palazzo Vecchio, therefore 9 years later the Medici moved again – to the Palazzo Pitti (I love the palace) and Palazzo Vecchio got its name – the old palace. The Palazzo today contains the offices of the City Council, but much of it can be visited. The entrance, which is alongside the copy of Michelangelo's David (original in the Accademia), leads into a internal courtyard with the stone lions and a copy of Verocchio’s Putto Fountain (15th century). The Hall of the Five Hundred is awesome, you must see it. My favorite room in the palace is the Sala delle Carte, decorated with 57 maps painted in 1563 by Fra' Ignazio Danti.
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