Piazza della Signoria
Since the Middle Ages, this square has been the political center and heart of the city, with the Fountain of Neptune, the equestrian statue of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Loggia dei Mercanti or dei Lanzi. Palazzo Vecchio was so named when the Medici family moved their residence to Palazzo Pitti. It still serves as the seat of the city government, with the 94-meter tall Arnolfo di Cambio tower and Ghibelline swallow-tailed battlements. The first public clock in Florence is located on the tower. At the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio is a marble pediment with the symbol of Christ, flanked by two lions and the lily symbols of the city. The square is rich in copies of famous statues, including Michelangelo’s David and Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes.
Facts & Trivia
The Loggia dei Lanzi is named after the Lanzichenecchi, who were stationed there to guard Cosimo I. It was used for the proclamation of the Priori and the Gonfalonieri, and other ceremonies of the Signoria, which was the form of government elected by the Corporations. Today it is an open-air museum rich in statues from various periods, such as Benvenuto Cellini’s bronze Perseus and Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women. In Piazza della Signoria, Savonarola held the Bonfire of the Vanities, burning books, clothes, and other items. He was also executed in the same square.