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TipAvoid the queues at the Giotto Tower and the Duomo and enjoy the view over Florence from the tower of Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio was already the headquarters of the Florentine government in the days when Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were living and working in Florence, and it still houses the office of the mayor of Florence and is it the seat of the City Council. But nowadays the main purpose of this late 13th century building at the Piazza della Signoria is that of a museum.
The building has many courtyards, halls and rooms, many of which are richly decorated with wooden panels, frescoes and paintings, including works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Donatello and Maiano. One of the rooms is said to have been the office of Niccolò Machiavelli, author of Il Principe (The Prince) and founder of modern political science and political ethics.
Centrepiece is the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the 500), one of the most prestigious rooms in the whole of Italy. It was build as the seat of the Grand Council, consisting of 500 members. The walls are decorated with large frescoes depicting the battles and victories of Florence over Pisa and Siena, and the ceiling consists of 39 panels representing episodes in the life of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici.
The building’s striking tower, called Torre di Arnolfo after Arnolfo di Cambio, the architect of Palazzo Vecchio, holds two small cells and three bells, the oldest of which was cast in the 13th century. With it’s height of 94 metres the tower gives a wonderful view of the city and the river Arno winding through the hills beyond.