Piazza Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

Statue near the building at Grand Hotel Minerva

10 min. walk from the hotel

Florence's grand political center with Palazzo Vecchio rising majestically over it, Florence's primary civil architecture monument and among the most important public buildings of the 14th century. Michelangelo's sublime David (a copy; the original has been at the Gallery of the Academy since 1873) makes the square all the more grandiose. Inside Palazzo Vecchio is the Salone dei Cinquecento, which holds the Battle of Marciano fresco (mentioned by Dan Brown in his latest novel set in Florence). Other masterpieces not to miss: Donatello's Judith, Michelangelo's Genius of Victory and Verrocchio's Putto. Palazzo Vecchio's facade has one of the symbols of Florence, Arnolfo Tower, 94-meters high, affording gorgeous views of the Arno and all of Florence. A little-known fact: down low behind the entrance door to Palazzo Vecchio, behind Bandinelli's statue of Hercules, there is a stone with the face of the man etched into it. According to legend, this "hidden portrait" was the work of Michelangelo. They say that each time he happened to walk by Via della Ninna, the street from Palazzo Vecchio to the Uffizi, he was always accosted by the same person who nagged him every time with the same story about his financial failures and the money that Michelangelo owed him and had never paid. On one such occasion, Michelangelo, bored and with the tools of his trade at hand, while the tiresome man was talking, he etched his profile behind his back, immortalizing him forever in the stones of Palazzo Vecchio. Another masterpiece in the square is the famed Neptune — known as the Biancone ("big white one") to Florentines— Bartolomeo Ammannati sculpted between 1560 and 1565. It was unveiled for the wedding of Francesco I de' Medici and the Grand Duchess Joanna of Austria on December 10, 1565. The fountain basin was completed in 1575 and used for washing for years. A plaque on the wall Palazzo Vecchio dated 1720 prohibits "dirtying it in any way, washing inkpots, clothes or anything else in it, or throwing wood or other garbage in it."

Piazza della Signoria 50122 Firenze Italy