Piazza della Signoria in Florence, an open-air museum in the city centre
Piazza della Signoria is the central square of Florence and the centre of political life both in the past and today. In its particular form of L the square contains priceless monuments, among which palaces and works of art. It is an obligatory point of passage for any traveller in Florence and it is a few metres away from the Duomo of Florence and the Hotel Brunelleschi, a romantic hotel in the heart of the historic centre, Unesco Heritage.
What to see in Piazza della Signoria
Palazzo Vecchio: built in the Middle Ages by Arnolfo di Cambio as the seat of the Priors of the Arts, which at that time ruled Florence. On top of the building you can admire the original Arnolfo Tower, 95 meters high. Today it houses the Municipality of Florence, but it is also a museum opened to the public.
Loggia della Signoria or dei Lanzi: built in the 14th century as a balcony for speeches to the crowd during official ceremonies. During the 16th century, failed the democratic structure of the city, it became a sort of open-air museum with the sculptures of the Medici collection such as Perseo by Cellini and the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. At the end of 18th century were added the ancient sculptures and transferred to Florence from Villa Medici in Rome. Even today, the Lodge retains the characteristics of a real gallery of statues. Free access.
Tribunale della Mercanzia: made (on the site where there was a Roman Theatre) to resolve disputes among the different Arts or among members of the individual Arts. On the front top, there are the copies of the coat of arms of the twenty Arts, plus that of the Tribunale della Mercanzia, while the originals are preserved inside the Palace. Today it houses the Gucci Museum.
Palazzo Uguccioni: a palace with a classical shape slightly protruding on the square than the other adjacent palaces. Today it is a private building.
Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali: in a Neo-Renaissance style. Today, the ground floor houses the historic café Rivoire.
Other buildings in the square are: Palazzo dei Buonaguisi and Palazzo dell’Arte dei Mercatanti.
The statues in the Piazza della Signoria: in front of Palazzo Vecchio you can admire the precious statues copies as the Marzocco and Judith and Holofernes, both by Donatello (the Marzocco is preserved in the Bargello and Judith inside Palazzo Vecchio).
– the copy of David by Michelangelo, whose the original can be admired at the Galleria dell’ Accademia;
– Hercules and Caco by Baccio Bandinelli that is next to the David and it represents the victory with the force and cunning against the wicked, in a symbolism taken from Twelve labours;
– the two Terms in marble depicting the couple Philemon and Baucis who, according to the legend, they were transformed by Jupiter him in a oak and she in a basswood, exemplary of mutual love. Originally they supported a chain that was placed at the entrance barrier;
– the Fountain of Neptune (called the Biancone) by Bartolomeo Ammannati, the first public fountain in Florence;
– the great Equestrian statue of Cosimo I, a bronze work by Giambologna, centrally located to the left of Palazzo Vecchio.
At the centre of the square, in front of the Fountain of Neptune try to look on the ground the plaque commemorating the place where Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned for heresy in 1498, the same place where, with his disciples, it had operated the so-called Bonfire of the Vanities, burning many books, poems, gaming tables, clothes, etc.