Piazza della Republica
If you are in Florence and you haven't visited the Piazza della Republica, then you have missed one of the city's most important landmarks. The piazza is surrounded by majestic arcades that only add to it's already spectacular appearance. The Piazza della Republica resembles the benched portico look of the ancient Diocletian baths complex and was formerly known as Piazza Esendra. It has a great fountain called Fontana delle Naiadi at the centre which was created by the well known architect Mario Rutelli. The fountain has the figure of Glaucus who is trying to wrestle with a fish and is surrounded by four mermaids.
Piazza Della Republica is located at the centre of the city and occupies quite an important place in Roman history. In ancient times the site where Piazza della Republica now stands, was occupied by the Roman Forum, in 1865, this was torn down along with walls that dated back to the13th century so a thoroughfare could be made.
The Column of Abundance marks where the Roman forum stood, this was also the meeting point of Cardus and Decumanus Maximi. In the medieval age, you would have found a teeming market place and the Jewish Ghetto. It also had many churches and tabernacles. The 18th century witnessed the revamping of this densely populated area when the decision to clean up the Piazza was made by the town council. As a result, many homes, workshops, Guild centres and churches were demolished. If you want to see how the original square looked, you can have a look at the paintings placed in the museum Firenze Com'era, which literally means Florence as it was.The recent century has also seen some more changes in Piazza della Republica. Initially the square had a bronze monument that was dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuele II. This statue has now been shifted to the Cascine Park's entrance. There were many clay statues in the Arch of Triumph that have weathered away over time and were never replaced.
Christmas is a great time to visit Piazza Della Republica since there is fun and festivity in the air. Every year a huge Christmas tree (which has almost become the symbol of the square) is erected. Piazza Della Republica has some old and great cafes like the Donini and Pasckowski where you can find and enjoy some great coffee and scrumptious pastries. It also boasts of one of the largest Taxi stands next to the Pasckowski Cafe. If you are an avid reader, then you can have a look at one of the city's largest bookshops called the Edison. Music buffs can have their fill at the music store Riccordi.
One of the great pleasures of a visit to Florence is strolling through the piazza at night with a gelato while enjoying the bands and entertainers that fill the square. It is an inexpensive way to get an authentic feel of being a local Florentine surrounded by thousands of years of history. If money isn't an issue then you must stay at the Savoy Hotel located on the Piazza and next to the well known Duomo. It's a five star hotel and centrally located, it's quite easy to visit all the important parts of the beautiful city of Florence.
Festivals & Events:
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino- "Musical May"- Italy's oldest and most prestigious music festival.
Calcio Storico- A wild, almost modern day gladiatorial contest between two teams combining rugby, soccer and wrestling. Held annually between June 24-28.
Estate Fiesolana- "Summer in Fiesole" - Nearby Fiesole comes alive with a variety of dance, music and theater performances in their amazing ancient Roman theater. Events run through September.
Florence Dance Festival - International dance companies perform in the cities most beautiful outdoor locations, such as Piazzale Michelangelo and the Boboli Gardens.
International Antique Show - Held in mid-September in uneven years.
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