Palazzo Vecchio is a timeless landmark in the Florentine skyline. Its medieval bell tower effortlessly climbs atop the city’s terracotta roofs, meeting the Duomo’s gaze. It is no coincidence that this building is chalk full of history. The palace encompasses several ornate rooms, and at the heart of these rooms is the great hall. What is now one of the main attractions to the museum, the Salone dei Cinquecento, once served as one of the main political gathering rooms of the palace. Centuries ago, construction techniques were used to raise the roof in this space, almost doubling its height. This helped to create the Salone dei Cinquecento into what it is today.

My professors, Daniela Sinicropi and Stefano Corazzini, took us on a unique tour during our Architectural Structures II class to visit the truss system that holds this roof in place. We climbed many stairs to come upon the attic of the Salone dei Cinquecento. Here, we saw giant timber trusses that did all of the heavy lifting, holding up both the coffered ceiling and the terracotta roof above. These timber structures rest on the thick, load bearing masonry walls. This behind-the-scenes look allowed us to grasp the structural content of the building, and it certainly reinforced the grand gesture of the hall. 

Holly Aley, UMD Architecture