This battlemented urban fortress, well proportioned yet of forbidding grace, for centuries saw duty as Florence’s police station and prison. Today its only inmates are men and women of marble, gathered together to form Italy’s finest collection of sculpture, a fitting complement to the paintings in the Uffizi.
The Bargello is ‘stone Florence’ squared to the sixth degree, made of rugged pietra forte; it was the model for the even grander Palazzo Vecchio. Even the treasures it houses are hard, definite—and almost unremittingly masculine.
The Bargello offers a compelling insight into Florence’s golden age, and it was a man’s world indeed. Completed in 1255, it was intended as Florence’s Palazzo del Popolo, though by 1271 it had become the residence of the foreign podestà, or chief magistrate, installed by Guelph leader Charles of Anjou.
Images by Ed. Bragi, Graeme Churchard, Richard Mortel, Rufus46, Ufficio di Turismo, Wolfgang Sauber