most beautiful loggia in Firenze is without doubt the Loggia dei Lanzi
in Piazza della Signoria. Originally called the Loggia dei Priori, in
the time of Cosimo I it housed his soldiers (Swiss lancers), who were
called Lanzichenecchi, and so it came to be known as the Loggia dei Lanzi.
This elegant loggia, built to form part of the Palazzo Vecchio complex
and inaugurated in 1381, was used for ceremonies and for the proclamation
of the edicts of the Signoria. Today the loggia is a kind of open-air
museum housing an important group of statues which all rather strangely
share a note of violence. Under the left arch is Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus,
which depicts the Greek hero holding up the head of the Medusa that he
has just killed. Under the right arch is the Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna.
In the second row, on the right, there is another work by Giambologna,
Hercules fighting the Centaur Nessus; then there is Menelaus supporting
the Body of Patroclus, a Roman copy of the original Greek work, and The
Rape of Polixena by Pio Fedi. At the back of the loggia there are six
Roman statues which have been heavily restored.
Above the loggia there is a beautiful terrace with a view of Piazza
della Signoria, which can be reached from the Galleria degli Uffizi.
Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Jeremy Carden