VASARI, Giorgio
(b. 1511, Arezzo, d. 1574, Firenze)

Façade of the Palazzo dei Cavalieri

Piazza dei Cavalieri, Pisa

The Palazzo dei Cavalieri stands on the Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights' Square) which was for many years the political and social centre of the city. The palace was originally the Palazzo degli Anziani (Palace of the Elders); then in 1562 Giorgio Vasari began the rebuilding and enlargement which produced the magnificent Palazzo dei Cavalieri or Palazzo della Carovana, named after the training courses for knights (cavalieri) of the Order of St Stephen which were held here; the courses were known as carovane (caravans). The imposing façade is decorated with sgraffito ornament, coats of arms and busts of six Grand Dukes of Tuscany (from Cosimo I to Cosimo III). The effect of the building is enhanced by the wide projection of the roof and the handsome double staircase leading up to the entrance.