Florence and Piazza della Signoria
Florence is renowned all around the world for its beauty. What makes it unique are its monuments, its history. Named the cradle of Renaissance, Florence was the scene of great events over the centuries and its palaces, monuments and museums prove it.
Florentia was founded by Romans in 59 b.C. During the 12th century, Florence was transformed into an independent municipality, becoming a rich and important city. It wasn't until the 15th century, however, that Florence with the Medici clan in power turned into a European capital of art, culture and politics and that period has since become known as the Renaissance. Up to the beginning of the 20th century, Florence remained one of the most important cities in Italy and Europe.
There is a large amount of evidence of this long and glorious history. Buildings, monuments and artworks remain in the city, visited by millions of people every year. One of the most significant and important places in Florence is the beautiful Piazza della Signoria.
Piazza della Signoria was and continues to be the center of Florentine power today, where political life takes place. In the square stands Palazzo Vecchio, headquarters of the Municipality of Florence. Built at the end of 13th century by Arnolfo di Cambio over the ruins of older buildings including the Tower of Vacca, it was at first called Palazzo dei Priori, the seat of the Priors. Palazzo Vecchio has been the seat Florence's government over the centuries. The actual building is the result of successive additions.
In front of the main entrance there are several statues, symbols of the city and of its past splendor. Among these is Michelangelo's large marble statue David (what you see now is a copy) which remains a global landmark of the city. The statue was commissioned in 1501 and Michelangelo's genius was in sculpting it from one block of pure marble. This masterpiece celebrates the force and will of man, the most important values for every human being.
Next to the David stands the statue of Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli (1530): Hercules is one of Florence's favorite figures. The statue was originally commissioned to Michelangelo but as he was busy working for the Pope in Rome, it was finished by Bandinelli.
In front of Palazzo Vecchio there are also two bronze statues by Donatello: the Marzocco (the Lion) and Judith and Holofernes. The Marzocco, depicting a lion holding a shield with Florentine lilies, is one of the city symbols. Next to it stands the bronze statue of Judith and Holofernes, commissioned by Medici family. The statues were placed there when the Medici clan were banned from Florence as symbol of freedom from oppression and remained there even when the clan returned to power just a few years later.
To the left of Palazzo Vecchio is the Fountain of Neptune and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I that were commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici to celebrate himself and further decorate the square. The Fountain of Neptune was created by Ammannati to represent the will of Cosimo I to turn Florence into a naval power. The bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna imitates the famous equestrian statue of Marc Aurelius at the Campidoglio in Rome and symbolizes the connections between the Roman Empire and Florence and, of course, between the great Roman emperor and Cosimo I himself.
On the right hand, between Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery, stands the Loggia della Signoria built at the end of 14th century as a public place for meetings. Today the Loggia is an open-air museum that displays many important statues such as the beautiful bronze depicting Perseus by Cellini and the masterpiece The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.
In this breathtaking square you'll also find Casa del Garbo, our charming B&B in Florence. Several of the rooms of the bed and breakfast overlook Piazza della Signoria so that guests can admire this beautiful square of Florence in the heart of the city.