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The Piazza della Signoria: Florence's Outdoor Sculpture Garden

November 11, 2011 - 2:24am
The Piazza della Signoria: Florence's Outdoor Sculpture Garden
Florence is home to many incredible works of art, including one of the most famous sculptures in the world.

Michelangelo carved the 7-foot tall statue of David in 1501, when he was only 25 years old. His reproduction of the heroic Biblical figure who defeated the giant Goliath has become an icon of the ideal male. The statue now resides at the Academia Gallery, a ten-minute walk from the Piazza della Signoria where it was first displayed in 1504, and a replica was erected in its place.

David is not the only attraction this square has to offer those on a tour of Italy. The Loggia dei Lanzi open-air sculpture gallery was designed in 1376 by Orcagna, a famous Italian artist, and was originally intended for public ceremonies and meetings. Now it is filled with a number of statues, including Benvenuto Cellini's bronze Perseus with the Head of Medusa sculpture.

Cellini's masterpiece was commissioned by Cosimo I in 1545, but when the Duke saw a lifesize model, he was skeptical of the artist's ability to cast Perseus's extended arm holding the head of Medusa in bronze. However, Cellini found a way to make it work, and nine years later the statue was displayed in the Loggia.

It still stands proudly today, attesting to Cellini's talents, and visitors can take a break from their Italy tours to sit and admire this and the other statues that decorate the piazza.