Considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence holds innumerable historical and artistic treasures that have gained the city the status of the "Cradle of the Renaissance": monuments, buildings, bridges, roads... And, last but not least, squares! Those, in particular represent the authentic souls of the city, where people used to meet since from the foundation of the city.
Often surrounded by a magic atmosphere and breathtaking beauty, the Florentine squares are a meeting place for both tourists and locals, to get together, enjoy the city markets and different kind of events.
It's not an easy task to choose a favorite square in such a beautiful city: each has its own history and identity. So here is a list, made by ItalyXP, of the 10 (+1) squares that you cannot miss if you visit Florence!
Let's start our list with a classic! The Piazza del Duomo, also known as the "Cathedral Square", is located right in the heart of the historic centre of Florence. We are talking about one of the most visited places in Europe and the world.
In this enchanting square you can admire the Florence Cathedral (whose actual name is "Santa Maria del Fiore") with the world-famous Cupola del Brunelleschi, the Giotto's Campanile, the ancient Florence Baptistery, and lots of other attractions among the most important in the city.
This incredible square was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also known as the Palazzo Vecchio, which stands prominent in the centre of the square. Since its foundation, in the end of the 13th century, this L-shaped square has been the centre of the Florentine political and administrative life.
Over the centuries, some of the original traits of the square have disappeared, such as the ancient brick paving, but even today Piazza della Signoria still maintains its unique magnificence: although not that vast as some other squares in other Tuscan cities (like Siena), it is extremely lively, and considered one of the main meeting hubs for both locals and tourists, just as it was in the past.
The characteristic square of Santa Croce (in Italian "Piazza di Santa Croce") is dominated by the homonymous Basilica of Santa Croce: this monument has always been a symbol of prestige and meeting place for the greatest artists, as well as for the Florentine royal families that determined the identity of the late medieval and Renaissance Florence. The structure has been gradually enriched over the centuries, with donations from those powerful families, to which was granted a burial inside one the chapels.
This was once an isolated area, between the 1226 and 1228, and the Franciscans Order opted to settle in this area by virtue of its isolation. As for the Dominicans Piazza Santa Maria Novella (n°7 on this list), also Piazza Santa Croce for the Franciscans became the ideal place to welcome the faithful in the church erected in the sort of island that was later reclaimed, becoming today one of the main meeting places in Florence.
This square is characterized by an elliptical shape, obtained by expanding the Old Market Square built during the Middle Ages on the ruins of an ancient Roman Forum: a heritage of remarkable beauty and value, that confers the square a unique atmosphere.
In the Piazza della Repubblica you will be able find the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II Emilio Zocchi. The only testimony after the intervention of the 19th century is the Column of Dovizia (also known as the Column of Abundance), erected in 1431 by Donatello.
In Piazza Santissima Annunziata stands the elegant homonymous basilica, whose position was chosen by the Seven Holy Founders in 1250 to give birth to their church; So this was an area of open countryside, outside the city walls. The church became a populare place of pilgrimage and was later expanded to create a link towards the centre. The basilica was built out of an oratory created by seven young Florentine monks, who later on became the founders of the Servants of Mary order. The current basilica was rebuilt in 1444 by Michelozzo, but the design of the original dome was designed by Leon Battista Alberti.
Piazza Santo Spirito is located in the Oltrarno district. The square was built in the 13th century, to accommodate those who wanted to attend the prayers of the Augustinians, the holders of the Basilica.
In the square were often organized around the markets and today it still encounters many craft shops. The Basilica of the Holy Spirit is a Renaissance church, a masterpiece of Filippo Brunelleschi, who put to the test with new architectural experiments, then realized only in part by the successors to the leadership of the yards.
This tranquil square, dominated by the imposing Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is one of the leading and most beautiful squares of Florence.
The square was opened on the initiative of the City since 1287 and ended around 1325, after demolishing the houses that were there. It was used to accommodate the growing number of faithful who flocked to the sermons of the Dominican monks, who lived in the adjacent convent. The square later became, thanks to its width, the scene of festivals and shows like the Palio dei Cocchi (a race with cars similar to the Roman chariots), established by Cosimo I in 1563, for which the two marble obelisks were erected supported by bronze turtles.
The Piazza San Lorenzo is associated with the presence of one of the oldest market in town. The façade is still unfinished, and close to it you can find the entrance to the cloisters and to the Medicean Laurentian Library, designed by Michelangelo. On the right side there is also a statue of Giovanni delle Bande Nere, father of Cosimo I, who was sculpted in 1540 by Baccio Bandinelli. The Basilica of San Lorenzo is one of the city's most ancient churches, documented from the earliest times, around the 393.
Recently returned to life with the work of pedestrianization, this square is located in the ancient and influential centre of Florence. A few steps from Piazza della Signoria and contiguous to the Bargello Museum, is named after the Complex of Saint Filippo Nari (also called "The Complex of Saint Florence" from a mispronunciation of the name of an existing building dedicated to Saint Fiorenzo), which in recent times and until 2012 hosted the Court and the judicial offices of the city.
Located near the Lungarno (a path along the Arno River), until 1911 the Piazza Giusepe Poggi was called the "square of Mulina" and then took its present name.
The square is now dedicated to Giuseppe Poggi, the architect of the Piazzale Michelangelo, who built one of his most daring masterpieces, with a series of ramps in neo-mannerist style that lead up to the viewpoint of the square .In the middle of the square is still present the ancient Porta San Niccolò, wich, with its magnificence, looks like a tower.