The museum on the history of Florence
Palazzo della Signoria, or Palazzo Vecchio, with its 94-meter-high medieval tower, is the symbol of the political, cultural and artistic life of Florence. Resting over an ancient Roman theater still visible underground, it has always been the city’s center of power, first hosting Cosimo I De' Medici who expanded the Palace with the help of artists such as Vasari and Buontalenti.
When Florence was the Capital of Italy, the Palace became the seat of the Government, and still holds this function as the location of the city hall.
On the first floor, you can find the “Salone del Cinquecento”, the largest hall of the Palace. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti were commissioned to paint two glorious episodes of the military history of Florence, respectively, the Battle of Anghiari (1440) and the Battle of Cascina (1364), but neither of the two artists completed the work. The current appearance of the room is by Giorgio Vasari. The coffered ceiling, decorated with 42 cassettes, depicts important episodes in the history of Florence, including the foundation of the city in Roman times and the expansion of the walls in medieval times. At the center, Cosimo I stands as the lord of the city and lands annexed to the duchy, surrounded by the insignia of the twenty-one Arts, or guilds, and by cherubs bearing the emblems of his house. In the Salone, there are extraordinary masterpieces such as Michelangelo's Genius of Victory. In the Mezzanine, you can admire typical furnishings of ancient stately homes and works of art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. On the second floor, there are additional monumental rooms such as Sala delle Carte Geografiche [Geographical maps] and globe, Sala dei Gigli where the original of Donatello's Judith is located and paintings by Bronzino, in the Chapel of Duchess Eleonora. In the basement of the palace, it is possible to follow an archaeological route through the excavations of the Roman Theater.