art, culture, curious florence, italy, tips, tours, tuscany

A Walk Through Florence’s Outdoor Sculpture Gallery: Loggia dei Lanzi

Main cover photo sourced from Wikimedia Commons

When I first came (back) to Florence in 2007 I was in love with the city but had one serious problem, I didn’t have any money. At the time, I was doing three to four odd jobs, mostly teaching English, and constantly running around the city getting a PhD  in Italy’s ATAF bus service. Meals were strictly reduced to eating at home, crappy aperitivo buffets and the occasional lunch with one, max two glasses of house wine.

However there were simpler pleasures to be had.

Namely taking one of my well-thumbed books to the park where I could find myself reading on a shady bench for hours on end, just listening to the hum of children playing or nonni discussing this week’s gossip. Or I would enjoy a past time that would often warrant strange looks from drivers in Los Angeles, walking for hours on end while listening to a few podcasts or playlists. Florence, luckily, is an easier beast to navigate than Burbank on foot, its dusty, cobblestoned streets offer a 24/7 visual backdrop of Renaissance history with interesting factoids at every corner if you care to listen.

My advice? Look up.

Naturally I had my favorite places to loiter and I still do, one such place being Piazza della Signoria. A place of public executions, political strongholds and one fake David. Oh, and a historic Cafe that serves some of the best negroni cocktails this side of the Arno.

One third, one third, one third. You'd think a cocktail made up of just three ingredients (vermouth, bitter & gin) would be easy to make but despite the simplicity means the balance of each pour and quality of the liquors in question has to be on point. Of course I'm talking about the famous Negroni cocktail, native to #YourFlorence and one that it's taken me 10 years to really enjoy. Now I do thanks to places like Caffè Rivoire, one of the most historic cafes in the city. Its origins are documented in the book "Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni", written by Luca Picchi, head bartender at Rivoire in piazza della Signoria. I prefer standing at the bar with friends to crack jokes with the bartender and also to avoid the "terrace" sit down price you often find in famous Florentine piazzas. How about you? Does the Negroni tickle your fancy?

A post shared by Georgette Jupe (@girlinflorence) on

Home to the city’s seat of power, The Palazzo Vecchio, itself an enigma of history stretching from its place as a Roman theater in the Roman town Florentia turned Renaissance-Romanesque fortress. You’ll find any number of people milling about in the large open-air square where a puritanical friar named Savonarola once burned to death in 1498 as a finale to his own Bonfire of the Vanities.

However what I really like to do when I have a free moment or just need to think, is a walk through the Loggia dei Lanzi, a 14th century open-air sculpture gallery with an elegant Renaissance-style arched loggia across from the Palazzo Vecchio on the corner of Piazza della Signoria. It is the formidable home to a number of classical and Mannerist sculptures including Benvenuto Cellini’s 16th-century bronze sculpture of Perseus with the severed head of Medusa and Giambologna’s impressive “Rape of the Sabines (1583).” 

Free during all periods of the year, it’s a gathering  place for tour groups snapping furiously away, students sketching from various corners and people like me, just taking in the scenery of a place I know I am supremely lucky to call home. You can often hear classical guitar wafting from the Polish busker who plays right outside and catch one of the street performers mimicking tourists walking to the Uffizi.

It hasn’t changed that much in a 100 years and in fact, see how just how little it has changed since the 1890’s here. When you pass by the symbolic huge stone lions, the art itself offers the viewer the chance to get up close and personal with precious artworks and Greek mythology in a way not normally possible.

[loggia dei lanzi By Rolf Süssbrich (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons]

You can catch a glimpse of a new detail on each piece with every visit, a muscle, a facial expression. There are a few rules, namely you are not to touch the artwork or eat inside the Loggia itself (surprisingly so many people try to frequently make this their lunch spot only to get a stern telling off from one of the local volunteers).

Recently I asked my friend and my go-to local guide Alexandra Lawrence if we could do a live video on Facebook walking through this majestic place. Selfishly I also wanted to learn more about a place that I spent so much time over the past decade in. I embedded the video below so that you too can enjoy a walk through one of my favorite places in Florence, Italy and one that we should all treasure for years to come.

Alexandra offers private tours of the city’s most famous places such as the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia but if you really want to do something special, ask her to show you what she loves about the city. Go to a lesser-known museum such as the Innocenti in Piazza SS. Annunziata or the Bargello.

….

If you enjoyed this video and want to see more, let me know! I get the best ideas from your comments, messages and emails and I need motivation to set up more of these tours so help me out guys! 

Join Alexandra Lawrence – Explore Florence and I as we show you Florence’s epic Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria this fine Friday.

Posted by Girl in Florence on Friday, January 26, 2018

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10 Comment

  1. Reply
    Max Leggett
    16.02.2018 at 18:44

    Great. My 2 favourite Firenze bloggers, and lots of good info.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      16.02.2018 at 22:05

      Thank you Max, we appreciate you taking the time to watch!

  2. Reply
    Ina McDonald
    16.02.2018 at 22:56

    As I fell in love with Loggia dei Lanza upon first sight nearly 50 yrs ago it was great that you and Alexandra did this nifty video. I return to my love often and in the last several years have had the pleasure of stopping in Florence often for several months at a time. That said, re your req for suggestions of other videos, how about the large mercatos, a little Beatrice and Dante walk ( everyone loves Dante), a stroll around the Bardini (everyone goes to Boboli, ) the English cemetery, several of the little museums that tourists never hear about, oh I could go on and on. I enjoy your posts immensely.
    Ciao for now.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      17.02.2018 at 14:52

      Thank you Ina for taking the time to watch it. I’ve been wanting to learn more about some of these famous Florentine landmarks for awhile so luckily Alexandra has been generous enough to give me and the public a wonderful history lesson, I certainly appreciate the Loggia even more now. Thank you for your suggestions, I love the ideas (especially Bardini and anything Dante related) so hopefully we will have more videos coming very soon!

  3. Reply
    Gail
    17.02.2018 at 1:44

    Absolutely LOVE Rape of the Sabines – I hope it continues to be accessible from all angles. I thought I read that the city was considering making the interior of the Loggia inaccessible – any truth to this?

    1. Reply
      Tatjana
      17.02.2018 at 7:21

      Hi Gail, yes, there was a talk about allowing access to a limited number of people at a time last year but not about not allowing anyone in. They tried but it did not work very well so everything came back to how it used to be. 🙂 We’ll be able to still enjoy the Loggia and Giambologna.

      1. Reply
        GirlInFlorence
        17.02.2018 at 14:50

        And thank god for that!

  4. Reply
    Scarlet
    22.02.2018 at 17:14

    You do a fantastic job of really capturing the experience. It transports me back and I love your IG shots too. I followed you:)

  5. Reply
    Keli
    23.02.2018 at 23:18

    This was amazing – thanks girls for being so generous with you time!

  6. Reply
    Silva
    01.03.2018 at 14:37

    Credo l”abbia creato Antonio Benedetto Carpano a Torino nel 1786, combinando erbe, cortecce e radici con vino. Passato di moda da quasi una cinquantina d”anni. Quando ero ragazzo il vermut era ancora sinonimo di aperitivo. A mio avviso rimane indispensabile quello rosso nel Negroni. E non solo

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