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Museums in Florence: the Bargello.

Bargello1The National Bargello Museum is one of the most ancient buildings in Florence. Probably designed by the architect Lapo, the father of Arnolfo di Cambio, in the second half of the 13th century, it was the official residence of the “Podestà”, a magistrate from another city who, from 1200 to 1502, used to be called in by the Florentines to take charge of the government of Florence. The Bargello is in Via del Proconsolo, in the heart of the city, very near to Palazzo Vecchio and in front of our school.
In 1287 a beautiful loggia was added to the the marvellous courtyard, which lies next to the tower, the oldest part of the building. On the top of the tower a bell called La Montanina would be heard only in case of danger for the city.
In 1502 the building became the seat of the Council of Justice and of the Police and the word Bargello2Bargello started to be the title used to designate the Captain of Justice. Part of the building was given over to the prison of the city and throughout almost three centuries it became sadly famous for being the place where people were tortured and executed.
In 1786, when the grand duke Pietro Leopoldo abolished the death penalty (for the first time in the world), the torture instruments were burned in the Courtyard. Nonetheless the building continued to host prisoners until 1857, when they were transferred to the ancient convent of “le Murate”. Thirty years later the Bargello became a museum of sculptures (1886) after being completely restored by the architect Francesco Mazzei according to the medievallike taste of the late nineteenth century. In the courtyard several coats of arms were plastered on the walls and many statues taken from various buildings in the city were disposed in the loggia.
The Museum has a remarkable collection of sculptures and artworks: statues from the Middle Age, the Renaissance, the Mannerism period, but also objects in gold, ceramic, enamel, bronze and ivory are kept among its walls.
Many masterpieces by Michelangelo, Giambologna, Verrocchio and Donatello are admired every year by tourists from all over the world and they make the museum one of the most important in the world for its collections. Moreover the museum frequently hosts exhibitions, such as the last one about Desiderio da Settignano.
The Museum is obviously a must for our course in Art History.

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