The Interior courtyard
From the main entrance, after a small hall with herringbone brick floor, we find a rectangular courtyard.
At the center of the shorter side, opposite the main entrance, we can see the coat of arms of the family.
The courtyard has arcades resting on marble and grey granite columns, removed from ancient roman buildings.
There are five arcades by the long sides of the courtyard and three along the short ones. The columns have marble pedestals and capitals which are decorated with moldings adorned with rosettes, palmettes e fruits. The spandrels, between the arcades, present instead porphyry medallions and polychrome marbles. At the corners of the courtyard there are four solid travertine pillars whose capitals present moldings adorned with rosettes .
In the small capitals that support the transepts of the vaulted porch there are alternating rosettes, friezes, cornucopias, masks and the coats of arms of the family with the Bishop’s insignias. One of the coats of arms is surmounted by a crest.
The sixteen windows on the first floor (five by the long sides and three along the short ones) which overlook the courtyard, have a Latin inscription (Andrea della Valle, bishop of Miletus) and niches, which initially hosted statues (among which, three statues representing Bacchus holding grapes, as learned in a description from 1554. Some of the statues and other important antiquities were first moved to Villa Medici and then to Palazzo Pitti in Florence and to the Capitoline museums in Rome.
On the second floor, the ancient arcades have been changed into windows surmounted by a cornice on consoles and a brick wall.
At the sides of the staircase there are two gates adorned with the Cardinal’s coat of arms. On the left-hand side there is an area which was used as cowsheds (on some columns it is still possible to see marks of wheel hubs).
Due to his humanistic culture and his love for the arts, the Cardinal collected a number of sculptures and reliefs which were placed in courtyards and rooms of his palaces. The architecture of Palazzo della Valle clearly shows it: the facades of the courtyard are adorned with many niches and holings of the piano nobile and the decorations become more spacious in order to host marble reliefs.
Due to the removal of the statues from the niches (sold to Ferdinando de’ Medici in 1584 and moved to his Villa al Pincio) and an unfortunate restoration in 1941 (during which the plastering of the internal facades was completely removed), the courtyard appears nowadays quite rustic, with no painting and visible bricks. Undoubtedly, this was not in the Cardinal’s intention. A light plastering was preferred to the initial duotone, so as to keep visible the structure of the bricked walls.