The Loggia dei Lanzi is located in the southeast corner of the Piazza della Signoria and is often referred to as the Loggia della signoria. It has four arches, three open to the Piazza della Signoria, and a forth opening on to the Piazza degli Uffizi. Today the Loggia dei Lanzi acts as an open-air museum housing an important array of statues, and is well worth a stop during a tour of the city.
The façade has four panels by Agnolo Gaddi depicting the Cardinal Virtues (Fortitude, Temperance, Justice and Prudence). Above is a terrace that has been incorporated as part of the Uffizi but was originally designed by Bernardo Buontalenti as a vantage point to observe ceremonial occasions in the Piazza below.
Guarding the steps of the Loggia stand two lion statues carved from marble. These are referred to as the “Medici Lions”, one originated from ancient Rome while the other was carved in 1598 by Flamino Vacca.
The Rape of the Sabines, a sculpture by Giambologna, is located under the right hand side arch and features a man lifting a woman while another man crouches below. The sculpture speaks volumes about Giambologna’s ability as this was created out of a single block of marble.
Among the other sculptures to be seen in the Loggia dei Lanzi is Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus. This originally came from ancient Rome but the sculpture we see today has been very heavily restored.
Under the left hand side arch is an outstanding bronze by Benvenuto Cellini of Perseus holding the severed head of Medusa. Commissioned by Cosimo I, the statue has stood here since its completion in 1545 apart from when it was removed to undergo some restoration work in the 1990’s. Some claim that the rear of Perseus’s helmet includes a self-portrait of Cellini. Although the bronze itself is the original, the base on which it stands is a replica, the original of which is now housed in the Bargello Museum.