Piazza della Signoria, 50121 Firenze FI, Italy
Florence is an open-air museum and there’s a place where this definition takes on its full meaning: the Loggia della Signoria or Loggia dei Lanzi.
Whatever its name (it is also called Loggia dei Priori or Loggia dell'Orcagna), it is a unique example of an open-air sculpture gallery containing antique and refined Renaissance art. With its wide arches, it opens to Piazza della Signoria, adjoining the Uffizi Gallery, and features beautiful sculptures made by artist like Giambologna and Benvenuto Cellini. Those arches seem to have influenced Brunelleschi when he planned the first renaissance building: the Spedale degli Innocenti.
The Loggia was built between 1376 and 1382 by Benci di Cione and Simone Talenti, to house public ceremonies of the Florentine Republic. Since the sixteenth century, at the time of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Loggia became an expression of the Medici family power. The sculptures, in fact, were chosen according to merely aesthetic criteria but to affirm and represent specific political meaning.
From Piazza della Signoria, climbing the stairs you'll find yourself between two huge lions: the one on the right dates from Roman times, the other on the left was sculpted by Flaminio Vacca in 1598 and was originally placed in the Villa Medici in Rome before being moved to the Loggia in 1789.
After the construction of the Uffizi, Buontalenti created a roof garden above the arches of the Loggia, a terrace from which the Medici could watch ceremonies in the piazza. Today, you can reach this spectacular terrace while visiting the Uffizi Museum.