Since Via Tornabuoni was 'pedestrianised', the base of the Colonna della Giustizia (Column of Justice) has become a popular place for people to sit and watch the world go by.
The column, which stands in Piazza Santa Trinita, was presented to Duke Cosimo I de' Medici (b. 1519/ r. 1537-74) by Pope Pius IV (r. 1559-65).
The 11-metre high monolithic granite column, which came from the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla, arrived in Florence in 1563 and was placed on its pedestal in 1565.
The column marks the victory of Florence against Siena at the Battle of Marciano (August 2nd 1554). It was erected on the spot where the duke first heard news of the triumph.
In 1580 the statue of Justice was added to the top of the column. The statue, which is made from three blocks of porphyry, one of the hardest stones to work, took Francesco del Tadda (and his son Romolo) almost 11 years to complete.
On May 15th, 1865, to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the birth of Florence's most famous son, a statue of Durante degli Alighieri (1265-1321) was unveiled to the public.
The sculptor was Enrico Pazzi (1818-99), who hailed from Ravenna (where Dante is buried), and for little over a century the statue of Italy's greatest poet graced the centre of Piazza Santa Croce.
However, in 1968 the powers-that-be decided that the piazza should once again host the annual calcio storico (historical football) and so the statue was relegated to its present position.
Crowned with a coronet of laurel leaves, Dante holds the Divina Commedia in his right hand. An eagle (symbol of divine justice), its wings half unfurled, perches at his feet.
At the base of the pedestal stand four shield-bearing Marzocchi (the Marzocco is the heraldic lion of Florence). On each of the shields is written the title of one of the poet's works.
The last great sculptor to wield a chisel in Florence was not a native of the city; he wasn't even Italian. His name was Jean de Boulogne (1529-1608) and he hailed from Douai in Flanders (now in France).
The Flemish sculptor settled in Florence in 1555 and stayed there for the rest of his life. He was known in his adopted country as Giovanni Bologna or Giambologna.
Perhaps his most famous work is The Rape of the Sabine Woman (1583), which stands under the right arch of the Loggia della Signoria, better known as the Loggia dei Lanzi.
The sculpture originated as a technical challenge, which Giambologna set himself. He wanted to carve three figures out of a single block of marble and integrate the figures into an action group.
Raffaello Borghini (1537-88), a Florentine poet and art critic, wrote that Giambologna's aim was to 'show the excellence of his art...and, without referring to any story in particular, he created a proud young hero snatching a beautiful maiden from a weak old man.'
And it was Borghini who suggested the title only after the sculpture had been completed. Giambologna clarified the matter by adding the bronze bas-relief of the Rape of the Sabine Women to the pedestal.
The sculpture was also conceived without a preferred viewing position. Prior to this, statues had been expressly designed to be seen from a particular angle. Giambologna challenged this premise by locking the three figures together in such a way as to draw the eye upwards and around as we follow the twisting and turning shapes of the naked bodies.
At the back of Piazzale Michelangiolo stands a building that is all too easily overlooked by the hundreds of people who are busy enjoying the spectacular views over Florence.
The piazzale was created by the Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi (1811-1901) and the loggia was built to house works by Michelangelo. Sadly, this plan was never realised and the building became nothing more exciting than a cafe. Today, La Loggia is a restaurant.
There is a large plaque to Poggi on the stone wall in front of the loggia, which was unveiled in 1911. In addition to proclaiming him as a Florentine architect, it adds: VOLGETEVI ATTORNO ECCO IL SUO MONUMENTO (look around and here is his monument).
The phrase reminds me of the plaque to Christopher Wren, who is buried in St Paul's Cathedral in London. The last line reads: LECTOR SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE (Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you).
At the western end of the Parco delle Cascine stands a monument to an Indian Maharajah, whose only connection with Florence was that he happened to die here.
On November 29th, 1870, Rajaram Chuttraputti, the Maharajah of Kohlapur, arrived in Florence. The Maharajah had been staying in London and was on his way back to India. However, fate had determined that he would never see his homeland again. No sooner had the twenty-one year old Maharajah checked into his hotel, than he was suddenly taken ill and died!
Chuttraputti was a Brahmin and, according to the rites of his caste, his body had to be cremated at the confluence of two rivers. The only convenient site in the city was at the point where the Mugnone flows into the Arno. Six years later a monument, which was designed by Major Charles Mant, was erected in his memory on the site of the cremation. The bust was carved by Charles Francis Fuller, an English sculptor, who was resident in Florence.
A century after his death the Maharajah gained a sort of fame when a bridge was built (1972-78) across the Arno very near to his memorial. The bridge is known as the Ponte all' Indiano.
In Piazza Santissima Annunziata stands a grand bronze equestrian statue of Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (b. 1549/ r. 1587-1609). It is the work of Giambologna (1529-1608) and his star pupil, Pietro Tacca (1577-1640).
The grand duke sits astride his horse, baton in one hand reins in the other. His horse stares straight ahead, but Ferdinand turns to the right and looks across at the 16th century Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai. Why?
In his poem 'The Statue and the Bust' Robert Browning (1812-89) relates the legend of how Ferdinand, while riding through the piazza, caught the eye of a young woman as she was staring out of a window of the palazzo.
The two fell in love at first sight, but there was a snag; both were married. And so nothing happened. However, many years later the unrequited lovers decided to mark that special moment by the creation of two statues, he on horseback in the piazza, while she had a bust of herself placed in the room in which she had been standing when she espied the grand duke.
The first stanza of the poem reads:
There's a palace in Florence, the world knows well,
And a statue watches it from the square,
And this story of both do our townsmen tell.
Robert Browning lived in Florence with his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning from 1846 until her death in 1861.
The two rather bizarre bronze fountains, which grace Piazza Santissima Annunziata, should, by rights, be in Livorno. The fountains (c. 1629) were commissioned from Pietro Tacca (1577-1640) and were intended as a gift for the city of Livorno, the major port in Tuscany. However, the fountains proved to be so popular in Florence that they never left the city.
Each fountain takes the form of two sea monsters, which sit back-to-back atop a basin adorned with all manner of sea life. Over time the fountains acquired the nickname the Fontane del Cacciucco after a type of fish soup, which is a speciality in Livorno.
During the second world war the fountains finally made their way to Livorno, but only in the form of copies, which were financed by the city itself!
In 1568, more than 130 years after it had been built, Cosimo I de' Medici (b. 1519/ r. 1537-74), Duke of Florence, decided to address the decoration of the cupola of the Duomo. While it had always been the intention to decorate the cupola with mosaics, an immense undertaking given its size, Cosimo opted in the end for frescoes. And he called in his trusted court painter Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) to undertake the work. The subject was to be The Last Judgement.
Vasari, with the assistance of four fellow painters, started work on June 11th, 1572. However, on June 27th, 1574 he died, having completed only about a third of the work. His patron had died two months earlier on April 21st.
In 1576 the baton passed to Federico Zuccari (1542-1609), an artist who hailed from Sant'Angelo in Vado, a small town in the Marches. Zuccari began work on August 30th with the help of at least three other painters, only one of which had worked with Vasari. Zuccari and his team completed the frescoes, less than two years later, in May 1578.
Zuccari signed and dated his work, but no mention was made of his illustrious predecessor. The omission of Vasari's name was no doubt an oversight on the part of the younger artist. However, he did paint include Vasari's portrait (and a number of other portraits), albeit placed behind his own more imposing self-portrait (complete with flamboyant head-wear).
The frescoes, which cover 3,600 square metres and depict more than 700 figures, were finally unveiled to the public on August 19th, 1579.
In Via Giuseppe Giusti, a short distance to the north of Piazza Santissima Annunziata, stands a small house which sports a rather bizarre facade.. It was built by the Mannerist artist Federico Zuccari (1542-1609), who, in 1576, was called to Florence to complete the frescoes in the cupola of the Duomo, which had been begun by Giorgio Vasari (1511-74).
In the design of the facade Zuccari made reference to both his profession and his name. The three reliefs (above the door and windows) depict the tools of his trade, while the wrought-iron pan di zucchero (a sugar cone used in confectionery), which forms part of the window-gratings, is a play on his name.
When Bartolomeo Ammannati's statue of Neptune was first unveiled in the Piazza della Signoria, the good people of Florence were less than impressed by what they saw, if the following ditty is anything to go by, "Ammannato, Ammannato, che bel marmo hai rovinato!"(Ammannato, Ammannato, what beautiful marble you have ruined!).
The year was 1565 and the statue, which was soon nicknamed Il Biancone (the white giant), stood on a high pedestal in the centre of the Fontana del Nettuno, the first major public fountain to be erected in Florence.
To add insult to injury, the public promptly used the fountain as a washbasin for its dirty laundry! In 1720 a plaque was attached to the wall of the Palazzo Vecchio forbidding such use. The plaque is still there.
In her book The Stones of Florence, Mary McCarthy recounts the tale that Neptune, who was the god of the river Arno, had been turned into a statue because, like Michelangelo, he had spurned the love of women.
The Venetian noblewoman Bianca Cappello (1548-87) was one of the most colourful characters in 16th century Florence and her palazzo sports one of the best examples of a type of decoration known as sgraffito (scratchwork).
Sgraffito is a form of ornamentation, which is produced by scratching the surface of a plastered facade to reveal the coloured plaster beneath.
The wall to be plastered was first given a rendering coat (rinzaffo) to cover and fill the holes and joints in the rough masonry. For sgraffito the wall was then coated with a layer of dark-coloured plaster (arricciato). A coat of white lime wash was applied to the arricciato before the latter was dry.
The surface was now ready for the sgraffito to be applied. A sketch was made on the white layer to scratch the outlines of the design. Using a stylus, the top white layer was scratched away to reveal the darker layer below. The contrasting colours of the light outer surface and the dark lower layer enabled figures or patterns to appear.
As a technique for decorating the exterior of a building, sgraffito has two advantages over the traditional fresco:. it requires less skill and it is more weather-resistant.
Florence abounds with examples of sgraffito, but one of the finest belongs to the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello, which is situated on Via Maggio. The facade was painted between 1574 and 1579 by Bernadino Poccetti (1548-1612)), who was also known as Bernardino delle Facciate (Bernardino of the Facades)
Poccetti created a complex and detailed tapestry of allegories and allusions. For instance, the four white swans and the Latin motto NON MINUS CANDORE QUAM CANTU ET VATICINIO SACER (no less white than sacred song and prophecy) refer to the virtues of the mistress of the house, whose first name means white in Italian.
Bianca Cappello was the mistress, and later the wife, of Francesco de' Medici (b. 1541/ r. 1574-87), Grand Duke of Tuscany, hence the presence of the Medici coat of arms.
On January 6th, 1537, following the assassination of Alessandro de' Medici (b. 1510), Duke of Florence, Cosimo de' Medici (1519-74) became the city's second duke. Cosimo was the first member of the cadet branch of the Medici family to rule Florence.
Renaissance dukes liked to have maxims and the young Cosimo (he was only seventeen years old when he came to power) was no different. He chose festina lente (hasten slowly), which had been one of the favourite maxims of ancient Rome's first emperor, Augustus. In Cosimo's case, the maxim was given visual form - a tortoise bearing on its shell a wind-filled sail.
The Palazzo Vecchio, where the young duke and his family once lived (when it was known as the Palazzo Ducale), is full of images of sailing tortoises. However, there are many other examples to be seen elsewhere in the city.
The exquisitely beautiful bas-relief (1414-21), which gives the Porta della Mandorla its name, is the work of the Florentine sculptor Giovanni di Antonio di Banco (c.1380/90-1421), better known as Nanni di Banco.
The door is located on the north side of the Duomo and the almond-shaped motif, in the centre of the relief, depicts the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Her ascension to Heaven). Mandorla is the Italian word for almond.
The Madonna hands down her girdle to Saint Thomas (the apostle who doubted Christ's resurrection), as proof of her Assumption into Heaven. The actual girdle, which was first made of silk and then of copper, has long since disappeared.
According to extra-biblical tradition, Thomas arrived too late to see the Assumption. The Virgin, therefore, offered her girdle to the incredulous apostle as tangible proof of her departure.
This scene is common in Tuscan art, because what is believed to be the actual relic of the Holy Girdle, known as the Sacra Cintola, is kept in Prato Cathedral.
In addition to Saint Thomas, there is, in the lower-right corner, a curious image of a bear shaking an oak tree. This strange image has always perplexed scholars. One explanation is that in the medieval belief system bear cubs were thought to be born shapeless, their form was given to them by the licking of their mother. This act became a symbol of Christianity, which, it was held, reforms and regenerates non-Christians.
However, this theory doesn't explain the presence of the oak tree!
The Medici family in Florence gave the Catholic church a grand total of three popes; two are very famous, Leo X (r. 1513-21) and Clement VII (r. 1523-34), but the third is much less well-known. The reason why so few people have heard of Pope Leo XI is that he died within a month of being elected.
Cardinal Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici (1535-1605), the great-nephew of Pope Leo X, became Pope Leo XI on April 1st 1605, only to die twenty-six days later on April 27th. His pontificate is one of the shortest in history. (The record is held by Pope Urban VII, who reigned in 1590 from September 15th until September 27th, a mere thirteen days).
During his long tenure as the archbishop of Florence, Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici was responsible for the rebuilding of the Palazzo Arcivescovile (Archbishop's Palace), which is situated opposite the baptistery in Piazza di San Giovanni. The papal coat-of-arms, complete with the Medici family's balls, graces the north-east corner of the palace.
The three roses and the inscription SIC FLORUI (thus I flourished), which one sees at the base of the coat of arms, refer to the brevity of the pope's reign. Pope Leo XI, like the rose, only bloomed for a short time.
Leo XI was later known as Papa Lampo (the Lightning Pope).
In most images of the Annunciation the three main protagonists are the Archangel Gabriel, the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit (taking the form of a dove). Very, very occasionally, the dove will be accompanied, or even replaced, by a tiny figure (who often carries a Cross).
We can see such a figure in a beautiful medieval painting of the Lignum Vitae (Tree of Life), which hangs in the Galleria dell' Accademia. It was painted, circa 1310-15, by Pacino di Bonaguida for the Convent of Monticelli in Florence.
The large wooden panel depicts a tree-shaped cross, which symbolises the Tree of Life. The scenes in the roundels hanging from its branches represents episodes from Christ's life. One of the roundels contains an image of the Annunciation, in which it is possible to discern a tiny figure heading towards the Virgin Mary.
More than two centuries later, the Council of Trent (1545-63) would discourage such representations, as they could lead people to think that Christ was fully-formed before entering Mary's womb, thus making the Mother of God a mere passive receptacle, rather than an active participant, in the Incarnation.
The poet who penned one of the most popular love sonnets in the English language died in Florence on June 29th 1861. Elizabeth Barrett Browning is buried in the city's 'English' Cemetery, which, in the month of April, is awash with irises.
Her tomb was designed by the English artist Lord Leighton and created by the Italian sculptor Francesco Giovannozzi.
In 1846 Elizabeth Moulton-Barrett (1806-61), then forty-years old, eloped with Robert Browning, a fellow poet, who was six years her junior. The couple honeymooned in Paris before settling (after a brief sojourn in Pisa) in Florence, where they lived until her death in 1861
Robert Browning left the city a month later. Although he lived for another twenty-eight years, dying in Venice in 1889, he never returned to Florence.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb doesn't bear her name, only her initials. There is no inscription, there are no lines from her verse, and the rather beautiful relief of the woman's head, with its coronal of laurel leaves, represents not the poet, but an idealised image of Poetry.
At the north end of the loggia of the Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents), stands a poignant reminder of what was once an all too common practise in Florence.
This is the spot where, for more than 200 years, babies were abandoned by their parents to the care of the hospital. The fresco above the grated window depicts two foundlings and a telling quotation from the Book of Psalms, "Our father and mother have abandoned us, but the Lord has taken us in." (Psalm XXVI).
When it was opened, in the middle of the 15th century, the Ospedale degli Innocenti was the world's first purpose-built hospital for abandoned babies, the so-called innocenti or nocentini.
The hospital, which was dedicated to Santa Maria degli Innocenti, took in its first baby (a girl) on February 5th, 1445. As February 5th is the feast day of Saint Agatha, the baby was given the name Aghata. She was also given a second name, Smeralda (emerald), for good luck.
Abandoned babies were passed (often anonymously) through a grated window and placed on a cushion. It is thought that the cushion may have been flanked by statues of Mary and Joseph so that the abandoned baby would have resembled Jesus in the crib at the nativity. A bell would then have been rung to attract the attention of the duty-officer.
A message or a token of some kind was often left with the baby, which would enable someone to prove that he or she had left the child, should they ever wish to reclaim it. This information was always carefully noted down in the hospital's records. The archives contain thousands of messages and small items such as coins, rings, hair clips, crucifixes, rosary beads, buttons, pieces of fabric, etc.
In 1465 the yearly intake of foundlings stood at 200, but twenty years later it had reached 1,000.
In 1660 the grated window, which was originally positioned elsewhere in the loggia, was moved to the north end, where it remained in use until June 30th 1875, by which time the yearly intake was in excess of 2,000 babies.
The last two innocenti (a boy and a girl) to pass through the window were given the names Ultimo Lasciati and Laudata Chiusuri. Both babies had been left with half a medal and a note to say they had been christened.
The Ospedale degli Innocenti houses a fascinating museum, which provides a graphic insight into the workings of an institution which, for centuries, played such an important role in the city of Florence.
While it is common knowledge that the lion is one of the symbols of Florence, what is much less well known is that, for centuries, real lions were kept in a cage in the centre of the city. .
The cage was originally located where the Loggia dei Lanzi now stands, but was later moved to the back of the Palazzo Vecchio, where the street is still called Via dei Leoni.
When Cosimo l de' Medici (r. 1537-74) and his family moved into the palazzo he soon found that the smell of the lions offended his ducal nose and so the beasts were once again relocated.
Piazza della Signoria, the civic heart of the city, is full of stone lions. The most famous is, perhaps, the Marzocco, but lions are also to be found above the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio and at the very top of its 95-metre-high tower, the so-called Torre del Arnolfo.
The entrance to the Loggia dei Lanzi is also flanked by two marble lions and there are countless other lions carved out of the actual fabric of the building.
Florence is full of beautiful images of the Annunciation and one of the finest is the work of the artist-cum-Carmelite friar Fra Filippo Lippi (1406-69), one of the city's own sons.
The painting (undated and undocumented) can be found in the Martelli Chapel (Cappella Martelli) in the church of San Lorenzo.
Lippi's depiction of the theme is somewhat unusual in that the painting is divided into two distinct parts, with Mary and Gabriel in one half, while the other half is occupied by two angels. One of the angels turns and faces the spectator, while gesturing to the adjacent scene. It is difficult to explain the presence of the two additional angels, as accounts of the Annunciation refer only to the Archangel Gabriel.
The altarpiece is actually made up of two separate panels, which do not quite line up. This fact has led some scholars to conclude that the painting was originally a pair of movable organ shutters, which were later reconfigured as a pala d'altare (altarpiece).
The painting is full of symbols. The glass carafe in the foreground, for instance, represents Mary's purity in its transparency and her role as the vessel of the Incarnation of Christ. And just as light can pass through glass without damaging the material, so a child was implanted in Mary without damaging her virginity.
At the base of a building on the south side of Piazza del Duomo there is a large plaque inscribed with the words 'SASSO DI DANTE.' (Stone of Dante).
The plaque marks the spot which purports to be the location of a stone on which the great poet Dante (1265-1321) sat while watching work proceed on the new cathedral.
Dante, Florence's most illustrious son, was thirty-one years old when the foundation stone of the new church was laid, on September 8th 1296.
Six years later, in 1302, Dante was sent into exile. He would never to return to the city of his birth, dying in Ravenna on September 13/14th 1321.
After a long and costly restoration the so-called Cosimo Panel (Pannello di Cosimo) is back on display in the Palazzo Pitti.
The panel is a lime-wood relief by Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), who is widely regarded to be the finest wood carver ever to have wielded a chisel in England.
The panel, which measures some five feet by three and a half feet (1.5 metres by 1 metre), was commissioned by King Charles II and sent as a gift to Cosimo III de' Medici. It left London on August 3rd 1682 and was presented to the grand duke on December 16th of the same year.
The intricately-carved relief is a tribute to the friendship between the courts of England and Tuscany (note the two crowns), which is sealed by the two billing doves at the top of the panel.
In the central part of the panel war is worsted by peace and prosperity: a time in which music, painting and architecture flourish.
In the place of honour, dangling from the trumpet of fame, is a medallion-portrait of Pietro Berrettini (1596-1669), architect-painter-decorator-designer. Better known as Pietro da Cortona, he was responsible for many of the ceiling frescoes in the grand-ducal apartments in Palazzo Pitti.
Gibbons signed the panel, throwing in, for good measure, his goose-quill!
The Cosimo panel is on display in the Sala di Grotticina, a small room in the Museo degli Argenti.
Outside the hallowed circles of art history he is not a very familiar figure, but Bernardo Buontalenti (1531-1608) was one of the big hitters in 16th century Florence.
His real name was Bernardo Timante Buonacorsi; he was called Buontalenti, on account of his many skills (talenti). In addition to being an artist, he was also a sculptor, an architect, a stage designer and a military engineer. He is also hailed, by some, as being the inventor of gelato (in Florence there is even a flavour named after him)!
As an architect, Buontalenti was fond of playing around with traditional classical motifs, as we can see in the Porta delle Suppliche (Door of Petitions). Buontalenti has taken the rounded pediment, divided it in half and re-assembled it in such a way as to create an entirely new motif.
The door, which is part of the Galleria degli Uffzi, was created during the reign of Grand Duke Francesco de' Medici (r. 1574-87). To the right of it, there is a small stone letterbox (now sealed), which the citizens of Florence were expected to use, if they wanted to petition their leader for something or other.
The grand duke was not overly fond of contact with his subjects and this was his way of reducing it even further. The marble bust is the work of Giovanni Bandini (1540-99).
Buontalenti also liked to add playful decorative details to his buildings as we can see in the Casino Mediceo di San Marco.
The Loggia del Grano has recently been restored and the wonderful bust of the mustachioed Grand Duke Cosimo II de' Medici (1590-21) can now be seen again.
The Loggia del Grano, which functioned as a market for grain and cereals, was commissioned by Cosimo II and built in 1619. The loggia was designed by Giulio Parigi, while the bust was carved by Chiarissimo Fancelli.
The bust sits in the middle of a splendid stemma (coat of arms). The Latin inscription proclaims Cosimo II as EGENORUM PATRI (Father of those in need).
Cosimo II (r. 1609-21), who was only nineteen years old when he succeeded to power, did not enjoy the best of health and for much of his eleven-year reign, he delegated the administration of Tuscany to his ministers.
However, the grand duke's poor health did not stop him from fathering eight children during his marriage to Maria Maddalena of Austria (1589-1631). Cosimo II was only thirty years old when he died of tuberculosis in 1621.
Cosimo II was both the pupil and patron of the great scientist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). In 1610 Galileo published his Siderius Nuncio (The Starry Messenger), which he dedicated to his esrtwhile pupil. And he named the four moons, which he had observed in orbit around the planet Jupiter, the Sidera Medicea (Medicean stars) in honour of the grand duke and his three brothers.
Embedded into the grey paving stones of the Piazza del Duomo, a few metres beyond the east end of the cathedral, is a large circular slab of white marble. However, the marble has no inscription to explain why it is there!
The explanation lies in an event which took place one stormy winter's night in the month of January 1601. While a thunderstorm was raging over the city, lightning struck the lantern, the twenty-metre high structure, which sits atop the cathedral's dome. The gilded copper orb and cross, which crowns the lantern, came crashing to the ground along with large chunks of the lantern itself.
The orb had been added to the cathedral in 1468 by Andrea del Verrocchio. This was no mean feat, given that it is 2.5 metres wide, weighs two tons and had to be hoisted to a height of 107 metres (350 feet).
The Grand Duke Ferdinando I entrusted the reconstruction of the lantern to Alessandro Allori, Bernardo Buontalenti and Gherardo Mechini, specifying that it was to be rebuilt exactly as it was before.
The lantern was duly repaired and the orb and cross were replaced on October 21st 1602. The spot where they had hit the ground was marked by the white marble disc that we see today. However, for some reason, no inscription was added.
Between 1826 and 1830 the Florentine architect Gaetano Baccani (1792-1867) knocked down several old buildings to the south of the duomo and, in their place, built three carefully aligned palaces for the canons of the cathedral.
The central palace was provided with a terrace which is supported by four columns. The columns frame two niches in which were placed statues of the cathedral's two principal architects, Arnolfo di Cambio (c.1232/40-c.1302/10) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446). The statues (1830) are the work of the Florentine sculptor Luigi Pampaloni (1791-1847).
Arnolfo di Cambio looks across at the cathedral, which was begun in 1296 under his direction, while Filippo Brunelleschi stares up at his famous cupolone (cupola), which he built between 1420 and 1436.