Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria Florence is named after Palazzo della Signoria, also known as Palazzo Vecchio. It is the public plaza that sits in front of the Palace. It is central in the history of the Florentine Republic and is still a meeting place for locals and tourists, alike. The Uffizi Gallery sits on the Piazza, and is its famous landmark
Surrounded by statues that sit in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and The Uffizi, the Piazza houses some of these famous sculptures including a copy of David by Michelangelo, the bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I, The Fountain of Neptune, The Lion, Florentine Lily by Donatello and Hercules and Cacus. It is like an open-air museum of art.
The Piazza della Signoria was first formed in the mid 1200's. It was in the square, in 1497, that the famous Bonfire of the Vanities book burning took place by Girolamo Savonarola. In 1498, he was hanged and burned in the square in front of the statue of Neptune. Today, there is a plaque which marks the exact spot of the event.
When the square was repaved in the 1980's, evidence of original Roman life, such as theatres, Roman baths, workshops for dyeing textiles and remains of a Neolithic site were found. The Piazza della Signoria is still surrounded by the Florentine culture and historically famous architecture. Sculptures of the finest works by Florence's famous artists surround this town square.The Palazzo Vecchio, the main focal point of the plaza, is an impressive and interesting building which is the seat of the municipal government, so it is only partially open to the public. The entrance and tower are an eccentric, castle- like ambient to the square. Palazzo Vecchio was the "old" palace of the Medici before they moved to the Pitti Palace in the sixteenth century.
From the Piazza della Signoria you can go through the Vasari corridor, which runs through the Uffizi, and over the Ponte Vecchio bridge to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the River Arno. The Vasari corridor was constructed by Vasari after the Medici family moved into the Pitti Palace, to provide a covered passage back to the town square. Today, you can walk past all of the shops from the Piazza della Signoria all the way to the Pitti Palace.
The Piazza della Signoria is full of magnificent statues and fountains. There are several restaurants and bars, so many of the locals and tourists fill the L-shaped square, day and night. It is a great place to start a walking tour of Florence that would include the town center, Palazzo Vecchio, The Uffizi,Vasari Corridor, Vecchio Bridge and the Pitti Palace which include the Boboli Gardens. In fact you can buy tickets that include three of the points of interest on a pass.
Florence Italy has more art and culture than any place I can think of. You can feel the humbling power of walking past the statues by Michelangelo and Donatello, shopping in local shops, crossing the river shopping district, or the view from the Boboli Gardens. From Piazza della Signoria, you are centrally located to take in these famous landmarks, eat in some of Florence's finest restaurants or drink Tuscan wine for a memorable visit. There are lots of photo opportunities, so don't forget your camera!
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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