From the map-room a little room is gained where the debates in the Great Council Hall might be secretly overheard by interested eavesdroppers, but in particular by Cosimo I. A part of the cornice has holes in it for this purppse, but on regaining the hall itself I found that the disparity in the pattern was perfectly evident even to my eye, so that every one in those suspicious days must have been aware of the listener.
The tower should certainly be ascended—not only for the view and to be so near the bells and the pillars, but also for historic associations. After a little way we come to the cell where Cosimo de’ Medici, later to be the Father of his Country, was imprisoned, before that exile which ended in recall and triumph in 1433. This cell, although not exactly “a home from home,” is possible. What is to be said of that other, some thousands of steps (as it seems) higher, where Savonarola was kept for forty days, varied only by intervals of torture? For Savonarola’s cell, which is very near the top, is nothing but a recess in the wall with a door to it. It cannot be more than five feet wide and eight feet long, with an open loophole to the wind. If a man were here for forty days and then pardoned his life would be worth very little. A bitter eyrie from which to watch the city one had risked all to reform. What thoughts must have been his in that trap! What reviews of policy! What illuminations as to Florentine character!
The Uffizi I: The Building and the Collectors
The growth of a gallery—Vasari’s Passaggio—Cosimo I—Francis I—Ferdinand I—Ferdinand II—Cosimo III—Anna Maria Ludovica de’ Medici—Pietro-Leopoldo—The statues of the facade—Art, literature, arms, science, and learning—The omissions—Florentine rapacity—An antique custom—Window views—The Uffizi drawings—The best picture.
The foreigner should understand at once that any inquiries into the history of the Uffizi family—such as for example yield interesting results in the case of the Pazzi and the Albizzi—are doomed to failure; because Uffizi merely means offices. The Palazzo degli Uffizi, or palace of offices, was built by Vasari, the biographer of the artists, for Cosimo I, who having taken the Signoria, or Palazzo Vecchio, for his own home, wished to provide another building for the municipal government. It was begun in 1560 and still so far fulfils its original purpose as to contain the general post office, while it also houses certain Tuscan archives and the national library.