Tour Outside the Palazzo
Freya, our favorite Italian tour guide joins us for a special private tour today of the beautiful piazza surrounding the Palazzo Vecchio. The Palazzo (Italian for “palace”) is Florence’s town hall, and the surrounding piazza is where many gather for revelry and celebration. The Palazzo Vecchio is a particularly spectacular site, as the spot of the first palace of the royal family. This area also hosts the site of the beautiful Gucci restaurant & museum. The piazza outside of the Palazzo Vecchio is one of many celebration spots for the June 24th Tuscan holiday celebrating the patron Saint John the Baptist. The town hall, built in 1299, was one of a kind.
At the time, Venice and Florence were not only the two the richest provinces in all of Europe, but also the most populated. You can see the additions to the town hall that took place over time. A friar overtook the government for a time during the 14th century. During that shift, government power was altered to a more theological form with more participation. More participation means additional people and space. The first addition came to fill this need, as the government grew to 1500.
The Palazzo underwent a renovation marking the change from a town hall to a residential palace with the overthrow of the governing body by the Medici family. The previously used political building morphed into the palace and a second expansion was born.
The other building, as she explains, was a mercantile court for much of the thirteenth century when it was built. The court ruled on all matters related to trade. It wasn’t until the 1900s that the Gucci corporation took over the lease of the building. They created a museum on the top floor and a beautiful restaurant on the main level with servers and concierge decorated in head to toe Gucci. It is truly a marvelous site to behold. To learn the full story watch Freya’s virtual tour video and do some of your own research on the wonderful story of Florence.