The piazzas of Florence are the centers of commerce, community, history, tourism and daily Florentine life. From the more touristy center of Piazza della Repubblica, to the smaller neighborhood piazzas like Piazza Ciompi, they all have a unique place in the history and life of the city.
Below are some of our most recent entries posted in the Piazzas category - use the links at the end of the page to access all the articles individually.
Piazza della Repubblica is one of the largest and most famous city squares in Florence. It is the original site of the Roman Forum (from which columns are believed to be used in the interior of San Miniato). The remains of the ancient Campidoglio are buried beneath what once was the Teatro Gamberinus (now the location of the Hard Rock Café!), just off the northwest corner of the piazza on Via Dè Brunelleschi.
For the past 1600 years, the area today known as Piazza del Duomo has been one of the main points of Florence's religious life. It is made up of the area in front of and around both sides and the rear of the Duomo, though many people also include Piazza San Giovanni (the area around the Baptistry) in this description even though technically it is a separate and different piazza.
In the environs of the piazza you will find the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore), Giotto's Campanile, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Loggia del Bigallo (now a tourism information point), the column of San Zanobi (Florence's other patron saint - they have two!), the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, and the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore (this is the museum behind the Duomo at the of the church where the dome is - it is different from the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, which is in a building across from the baptistry).
The square is saturated with visitors by day snapping photos and admiring the beauty of the church, the baptistry, the campanile and the surrounding sites. The front steps (recently renovated after a section had become dislodged) are now mostly roped off to keep people from using them as a resting spot (something we think is ludicrous!), although the main tourist entrance is via the front steps, usually on the left hand side if you are facing the cathedral. The church itself is still free to visit (the campanile, dome, and crypt of Santa Reparata all require separate admission) and depending on the season, weather, and time of day the line to get in can be long but security measures have been lowered in recent years and the wait is usually not too bad.
In January of 2010 the area become "pedonale", or a pedestrian zone, which has greatly lowered the noise level, but the foot traffic is so intense it can be difficult to navigate during the day by bike. Note that even though it is a pedestrian zone, the famous Misericordia di Firenze still operate from the area around the campanile, and their ambulances can come whizzing by at full speed, blaring their sirens, at any time!
On the south side of the Duomo you will usually find watercolor artists selling their paintings or ready to draw portraits, while on the north side there are some shops and restaurants, as well as Via Ricasoli and Via dei Servi, two important and ancient streets leading to Piazza San Marco and Piazza della Santissima Annunziata respectively.
Piazza Santa Maria Novella was originally intended in the thirteenth century to hold the overflow of worshippers to the Santa Maria Novella church. Beginning in the late fourteenth century it was also used to hold the Palio dei Cocchi chariot races hosted by Cosimo I. The two obelisks were added in 1608 to serve as turning posts in the race. Across the piazza from the church is the fifteenth century Loggia di San Paolo, from which the grand duke viewed the race. Today it houses the Alinari National Museum of Photography (Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia).
In the nineteenth century, several important foreign literary and political figures chose this piazza as their headquarters in Florence. A plaque to the American poet Longfellow appears on the wall of the Hotel Minerva while the writer Henry James wrote his novel Roderick James in a house on the corner of the Via della Scala. On the Via delle Belle Donne is the balcony from which Garibaldi made his famous declaration "Roma o morte!"
Authentic gelato is to be had at L'Angolo del Gelato, on the corner of the Via della Scala, where the specialties of the house include a very rare crema di arachidi, or peanut butter gelato.
Piazza Santa Trìnita is named after the Church of Santa Trìnita on the northwest side of the somewhat triangular square. At the center of the piazza stands the "Column of Justice", a massive granite column from the east section of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. It was the gift of Pope Pius IV in 1560 for Cosimo I, the first Grand Duke of Florence. In 1581 the Justice statue by Tadda was added to the top of the column, - the bronze cloak was added even later.
Once an isolated area outside of the city walls, the piazza became part of the city center in 1175 after the founding of the church and convent of Vallombrosa.
The piazza is known for having three sides, but four architectural styles. During the late 14th century noble families began building mansions on the square, and it remains one of the finest examples of living architectural history in all of Florence. Three particularly famous mansions exemplify patrician architectural styles over the centuries. The 14th century Palazzo Spini is now home of the Ferragamo store and museum and a fine example of medieval architecture in Florence (although heavily restored). The 15th century Palazzo Buondelmonti is an typical late medieval/early Florentine Renaissance palazzo with a loggia on the top floor and a façade by Baccio d'Agnolo, while Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni is a pure late Renaissance example, also by d'Agnolo. Now considered a masterpiece, at the time it was called the "Roman" style and not popular with contemporary Florentines who felt the classical shapes and square windows were out of place. The Church of Santa Trìnita itself has a Mannerist façade added in the very late 16th century by Buontalenti.
The square today marks the beginning of the famous via Tournabuoni, the most luxurious and chic shopping street in Florence (this street is now pedestrian only and was repaved with all new stones and sidewalks in late 2012 and 2013).Piazza Santa Trìnita.
Piazza dei Ciompi, named for the "Ciompi" or wool carders of Florence (and their eponymous revolt in 1378), occupies a working class corner of Florence north of Piazza Santa Croce and close to Piazza Sant'Ambrogio. This area was particularly hard hit in the flood of 1966 - look for plaques well up the walls of the palazzos around the square to see how high the water was.
A graceful 16th century construction, the Loggia del Pesce by Giorgio Vasari, now stands at the north end of the Piazza. The loggia was formerly located in Piazza della Repubblica and was moved here when the old market was razed during the reunification period. Next to the loggia on the NE corner is a flower vendor.
The square is also home to the "mercantino" or flea market - small sheds selling antiques, art, old books, and various oddities. The market is perpetually scheduled to be moved to a new location... On the last Sunday of each month there is a larger flea market with many more vendors displaying their goods on tables in the streets surrounding the square.
Across the street on the south side of the piazza is a small park and children's playground maintained by local pensioners. There is a public restroom available here when the gate is unlocked.
To enjoy the square and a drink, sit outside at Plaz on via Pietrapiana 36r, just across from the loggia.Continue reading Piazza dei Ciompi.
In the square lies a monument to Demidoff commissioned in 1828 by his sons Anatoly and Peter. They ordered the sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini to create a marble statue representing their father surrounded by four allegorical groups representing virtues. Work on the monument was carried out between 1830 and 1849 and only finally completed in 1871 by a student of Bartolini, following the death of the artist. Originally the monument was to be placed in the Villa di San Donato, but later it was given to the City of Florence.
The opening of the Arno river connects Piazza Demidoff to a scenic route on the Viale dei Colli Serristori.
Constructed in 1865, this piazza takes the form of a square garden that takes its spatial inspiration from English squares. Up until the First World War the garden was closed by a gate and only owners of the residences surrounding the square had keys to enter. The politician and writer Massimo d'Azeglio died a year before the city council decided to name the square after him in 1866.
The garden in the square is home to a number of pathways and flower beds. Especially impressive are the many hackberry and sycamores trees, as well as the small pool at the center of of the piazza. Since the 1990s there has been a progressive removal of diseased trees that have been deemed unsafe because of their age. Additionally, the square contains a playground, a carousel and a small soccer field. At the center of the park, just before Florence became the (former) capital of Italy, a theatre was built and named after Umberto I. The construction was destroyed by a fire in 1889 and never rebuilt.
The buildings surrounding the square date from the 18th and 19th century. The Villino Uzielli, constructed by the architect Paolo Emilio Andrée, was the home of the Polish writer Stefan Żeromski, the author of the patriotic poem Ash Wednesday.
On one side of the garden lies a small monument in memory of three partisans who died on June 7, 1944: Enrico Bocci, Italo Piccagli and Luigi Morandi. They were all decorated with a gold medal for valor and were killed by fascists who discovered the group in one of the buildings of the square.
Piazza Santa Croce is one of the largest and most famous squares of central Florence. The Basilica of Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world, overlooks the piazza. The basilica's most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs. It is the burial place of some illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo Buonarroti, Niccolò Machiavelli, Enrico Fermi, Galileo Galilei, Ugo Foscolo, Guglielmo Marconi, Luigi Cherubini, Leon Battista Alberti, Vittorio Alfieri, Gioacchino Rossini, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Lorenzo Bartolini, Pier Antonio Micheli, Bartolomeo Cristofori, and Giovanni Gentile. For this reason it also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie). In front of the Basilica there is famous marble statue made by Enrico Pazzi decidated to Dante Alighieri, and formerly places in the middle of the piazza.
Aside from the basilica, several important palazzos are on the square. Palazzo Cocchi-Serristori, on the opposite end from the basilica, is the 15th century (with earlier foundations) masterpiece of Giuliano da Sangallo, the personal architect of Lorenzo il Magnifico (with later work also attributed to Baccio d'Agnolo and Simone del Pollaiuolo). Today it houses the headquarters of the First Quarter neighborhood of Florence. In front of the Palazzo there is a baroque fountain originally attributed to Pietro Maria Bardi, constructed in 1673. It was later restored (circa 1816) by Giuseppe Manetti.
On the south side of the square lies the Palazzo dell'Antella (or Antellesi), a long building with a facade decorated with amazing (yet mostly destroyed) frescos by Giovanni da San Giovanni, and with windows of odd sizes (supposedly so that when seen from the steps of the church they all appear to be the same size). Today the ground floor of the Palazzo house shops and restaurants, while the upper floors are run by the Piccolomini family as short term tourist rentals.
The large rectangular shape of the square makes it a perfect place to host events, in particular the famous game of Calcio Fiorentino played every spring between the teams of the four "neighborhoods" of Florence. In 2006, Roberto Benigni recited Dante's Divine Comedy beside the Dante statue on the steps of the basilica. Almost every week a different themed market or festival takes place in the square - the annual Christmas market and the newer chocolate festival are just two examples of the many kinds of activities to discover in the piazza. It is also home to the Florence Marathon in the fall and the Half Marathon in the spring.
During the day the piazza is filled with people young and old admiring the basilica and enjoying the bustle of the square, while at night it becomes a meeting place for Florentines and tourists and a center for nightlife. The steps of the basilica and the benches of the piazza become saturated with young people talking and drinking beer, while the nearby bars add their overflow to the revelers. For coffee or aperitivo check out the chic bar Oibo (southeast corner), or for a delicious and romantic candle lit dinner, inside or out during the warmer months, try the Ristorante Boccadama.Continue reading Piazza Santa Croce.
Piazza San Marco was built in the first half of the 15th century when Cosimo the Elder commissioned Michelozzo to build a church and a monastery for Dominican monks from the convent of San Domenico in Fiesole (today the monastery is in large part the Museum of San Marco, most famously noted for the residence of the monk Girolamo Savonarola and the paintings of Fra Angelico among others). The church of San Marco and the museum lie on the north side of the piazza.Piazza San Marco.