Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
One of the most beautiful piazzas in Florence, Piazza della Santissima Annunziata exemplifies the stylistic harmony of some of the greatest architects of the Renaissance. The church that gives the piazza its name, the Santissima Annunziata, lies behind the central portico of the piazza.
The area of the piazza was chosen in 1250 as a space for a little church. At the time the piazza lay in open countryside outside the walls of Florence, in an area called Cafaggio. The church houses the Miraculous Annunciation, a masterpiece that according to legend was painted by an angel. The church became the destination of pilgrimages and processions and it soon became necessary to expand the church and the piazza, in addition to connecting it to the city center.
The piazza is flanked by the Brunelleschi-designed and La Robbia-decorated façade of the Spedale degli Innocenti which was the first orphanage in Europe.The building is inspired by classical models that Brunelleschi studied in Rome. Under the loggia of the hospital, is still possible to observe the famous wheel where you could anonymously leave babies by placing them into a cavity that opened as the wheel turned. Ophans were called "Innocents", which is still how they are commonly called in Florence. The Spedale today houses a museum as well as some offices of UNICEF.
Giambologna's last statue, of Ferdinando I de' Medici, was finished by his student Pietro Tacca and sits in the center of the piazza. Tacca also designed the two Baroque bronze fountains on the piazza.
On the south side of the piazza lies the Palazzo Gattai Puddings, formerly Palazzo Grifoni, built in 1563-1574 by Bartolomeo Ammannati for the Secretary of Cosimo di Jacopo Ugolino Grifoni.
Since November 2006, the ancient entrance to the National Archaeological Museum of Florence has been reopened in the piazza, after being closed due to major damage from the flood of Florence in 1966.
Today the piazza is the spot for special festivals and holidays such as the March 25 Feast of the Annunciation and the September 7 Rificolona day.