No other outdoor monument in the historic centre of Florence represents it neighbourhood as much as the statue of Ludovico di Giovanni de' Medici, known as Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, situated in piazza San Lorenzo. Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici commissioned the statue in honour of his father, the last of the great mercenary military captains, and sculptor Baccio Bandinelli began working on it in 1540. Uncharacteristically, Bandinelli presented his subject seated on a throne-like chair. He doubtlessly thought this was appropriate: the statue was to rest on a pedestal inside the Basilica of San Lorenzo. But Cosimo I changed his mind and had the statue installed in Palazzo Vecchio, in the Sala dell'Udienza.
Bandinelli also decorated the massive marble pedestal on which the statue was to rest, carving a relief celebrating the clemency shown by the victorious Giovanni dalle Bande Nere to his prisoners. However, the pedestal proved too large when Cosimo changed his plans, so instead of going with the statue to Palazzo Vecchio, it was placed in piazza San Lorenzo, where it stands today, and soon became popularly known as the Base of San Lorenzo. In 1812, Giuseppe del Rosso designed the public drinking fountain, also for use by animals, which was added to the base.
When, in 1850, the two pieces of the monument were finally united in the square, the locals were so bemused by the fact the fierce warrior was sitting in a chair rather than standing or on horseback that they made up a satirical verse about it. ?Messer Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, so bored and tired from his long ride, had to dismount and sit down to rest his backside.'