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Piazza della Repubblica
Travel guide for Tuscany
       
   

Walking in Tuscany | Florence | Around Piazza della Repubblica

   
   

We start this tour from Duomo Square through Via Calzaioli to Orsanmichele. In front of Orsanmichele entrance there is the Palazzo dell’Arte della Lana which had been seat of this guild since 1308.

On the corner the big tabernacle “Santa Maria della Tromba” a rebuilding of the original tabernacle of 14th century. Go on in this direction in Via Lamberti, cross Via Calimala and arrive in front of the post office palace. On the left you arrive in a nice little square with the palace of Capitani di Parte Guelfa.
If it is open you can visit this palace (free entrance: two large halls where you can see the costumes and accessories for the “Calcio Storico Fiorentino” (Florentine kick game). This was an early form of football that was played between teams of different quarters of Florence in squares as Santa Maria Novella or Santa Croce. Even now a day in spring and summer you can watch a match in Santa Croce. Coming out of the palace on your right you find the New Market Loggia (1547/51) where, on one side, there is a tourist market, in front of the palace of “Borsa Merci” this is a new palace because the original one was destroyed in the last world war. This part of Florence was hardly bombed during the second world war by the German soldiers, whose commander decided to save the Old Bridge and the most important places such as Palazzo Vecchio.


In front of this modern palace you can stop and touch the “porcellino” as Florentine people call a bronze copy of the marble statue of a wild boar by Pietro Tacca (1612) The original is in Uffizi Gallery. If you touch the snout you’ll have good luck and if you throw a coin into his mouth and it fells down into a grate you’ll come again to Florence! (you can try several times).
Go on walking along Via Portarossa and arrive at Palazzo Davanzati (nr 13) the private palace perfectly preserved with its stone façade. This palace is so well preserved that became the museum of the old Florentine private house. You can visit it.
Before arriving in Piazza Santa Trìnita, you see the Bartolini Palace, now hotel Portarossa with the Monaldi tower.
As soon as you enter the irregular square, you are in front of the Justice column, a big monolith which comes from the Caracalla Thermal Baths in Rome and which was given by the Pope to Cosimo the 1st Medici. The square is rich in splendid palaces: Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni by Baccio d’Agnolo (1520/23), Palazzo Buondelmonti and Palazzo Spini-Ferroni. In front of you there is the Santa Trìnita basilica, built in the second half of 11th century. The church was enlarged in 1300. The façade was made in 1593/94 by Bernardo Buontalenti. The church is famous for the Sassetti Chapel decorated in 1486 by Domenico Ghirlandaio with frescoes of the life of St Francis.
Now go on in the street between Palazzo Buondelmonti and Palazzo Spini Ferroni, this street is Borgo SS. Apostoli. After a few meters the street enlarges in a nice little square with a ancient charming little church: Ss Apostoli (11th century) (description in “Churches” part) A side of the church The Altoviti Palace (1512)
Proceeding in Borgo Ss. Apostoli, you can see the Rosselli del Turco Palace by Baccio d’Agnolo (1507). This area was hardly bombed in the last world war and many buildings were rebuilt after the war keeping the original volumes. Two ancient towers were not destroyed: the Baldovinetti tower (nr 4) and the Amidei Tower (nr 9 red) called “Bigonciola” and decorated with two lion heads of the Etruscantime. Now you are in Via Por Santa Maria, in front of you another little square with a nice church (usually closed): Santo Stefano in Ponte.

Walk along via Por Santa Maria as far as Piazza della Repubblica, this square was rebuilt in 18 th century enlarging the ancient old market square which had been built over the Forum of the old Roman city. It is on the site, first of the city's forum and then of the city's old ghetto, which was swept away during the city improvement works or Risanamento initiated during the brief period when Florence was the capital of a reunited Italy, work that also created the city's avenues and boulevards. The ghetto's remains may still be seen in the square, as may the Mercato Vecchio, the Loggia del Pesce. Among the square's cafes, the Giubbe Rosse cafe has long been a meeting place for famous artists and writers, notably those of Futurism.
Many famous bars are in this square: Le Giubbe Rosse or Gilli are the most famous.
To the other side of the arch Via degli Strozzi starts: at nr 4 the Vecchietti Palace planed by Giambologna in 1578 but built much later. On the corner the copy of a bronze sculpture by Giambologna “The little devil” (the original one is in Palazzo Vecchio).

 

View of the Sassetti Chapel in the
Church of Santa Trinita
Go on and arrive in Strozzi Square where you can admire the grand Palazzo Strozzi. At nr 2 there is the Strozzino Palace which is a cinema now. Walking along the Strozzi Palace you arrive in Via Tornabuoni one of the most elegant streets in Florence with famous palaces and the best shops. Going to the Duomo on the right near the corner with Via Strozzi, you can find one of the oldest and most famous (for Florentine people, not for tourists) groceries of Florence: Procacci.
Have a stop here, the shop is very little and there are only two or three little tables, here you can taste the best rolls with truffle in Florence and a good glass of wine in an intimate and suggestive place.
At the end of Via Tornabuoni you can find Piazza Antinori with the Palace (Palazzo Antinori) built in1461/69 by Giuliano da Maiano. May be the name of this palace is familiar to you, because the Antinori Family produces many of the best Chianti wines. In front of the palace the church of San Gaetano.
Before arriving in Duomo Square you can also visit Santa Maria Maggiore a medieval church and in front of it there is the palace of the hundred windows which, just for a change, now belongs to a bank.
 

Strozzi Palace, courtyard
     
   
   
Piazza della Repubblica

View of Piazza della Repubblica, from Giotto's Campanile

Piazza della Repubblica is the largest square in Florence. It is located in one of the oldest sections of the town. The square was the site of the ancient Roman forum and some of its currently existing adjacent streets like: Via degli Strozzi, Via degli Speziali and Via del Corso configured the Decumanus Maximus, while Via Roma and Via Calimaia shaped the Cardus Maximus.
In 1861, subsequent to the annexation of Tuscany to the Kingdom of Italy, was projected the flattening of the Mercato Vecchio (Old Market) which was accomplished in 1870.
Therefore, Piazza della Repubblica was considerably enlarged and several significant ancient monuments and buildings were irremediably demolished.
Fortunately, a splendid column from the Mercato Vecchio could be saved and it is still standing on the square. The Roman column is crowned by the statue of “L’Abbondanza” (abundance) sculptured in the 18th century.
The dominant element of the presently imposing square is the outstanding “Arco del Trionfo” (triumphal arch) placed on its western side. It was completed in 1895. The “Arco del Trionfo” had been constructed to honour Florence as it had been designated capital city of the Kingdom of Italy, from 1865 to 1871, in the reign of Vittorio Emmanuele II. In 1871, Rome became definitively the capital city of Italy.
In 1890 was erected in Piazza della Repubblica the equestrian statue of King Vittorio Emmanuele II.
 
 
   

Art in Tuscany | Florence Piazzas | Le piazze di Firenze

This article incorporates material from the Wikipedia article Piazza della Repubblica published under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Piazza della Repubblica in Florence.

     


Holiday accomodation in Tuscany


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There is easy bus connection to Florence as well as surrounding villages from Paganico.

 

     
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in Florence
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Piazza della Repubblica | History

Roman forum

Piazza della Repubblica marks the site of the forum, the centre of the Roman city. The exact present site of the Colonna dell'Abbondanza marks the intersection of the axes of the cardo (now via Roma, via degli Speziali and via degli Strozzi) and decumanus (now via il Corso). Foundations of a thermae complex on the south side and a religious building were found in the 19th-century demolition of the warren of medieval streets that had encroached upon the site. Via del Campidoglio and Via delle Terme, for example, were named after the archaeological remains beneath them.
The chronicler Giovanni Villani reports an oral tradition that there was a temple to Mars on or near this site, and writes that Mars was the city's patron god and so determined the city's warlike character. According to Villani a statue of Mars was in the Middle Ages placed on the predecessor to the Ponte Vecchio, along with which it was swept away in the flood of 1333.

Piazza del Mercato Vecchio and the Ghetto

In the early medieval period the forum area was densely built over. Before the accomplishment of the fifth circle of city walls, the chroniclers record, there was no longer a single garden or pasturage in the city; there was so little space that urban development had to be not horizontal but vertical, in the case-torri (tower houses) soaring skywards.
Over time, however, this area retained its function as a meeting place, to accommodate the market, which was institutionalised after 1000. As in other Italian towns, Florence came to define public space intended for commerce, with its complementary spaces nearby, the piazza del Duomo for political affairs and a piazza del Comune, now Piazza della Signoria, for political and civil affairs).
In the 16th century the Mercato became the Mercato Vecchio on the completion of the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo near Ponte Vecchio.

The Mercato Vecchio was a long, low building in an oval rectilinear plan, with an overhanging roof to shelter the customers and the stalls placed on either side. Other shops and stalls were sited in the piazzetta.
The Mercato had numerous shrines and churches (now lost, but recorded in 18th century photographs, paintings and drawings housed in the Museo di Firenze com'era). On the piazzetta del Mercato was the church of Saint Thomas, and on the Campidoglio a church to Saint Mary. There was also the shrine of Santa Maria della Tromba, rebuilt in the north angle of Palazzo dell'Arte della Lana, on the back of Orsanmichele. Here also was to be found the Jewish Ghetto, where the Cosimo I had forced the city's Jews to live. It contained an Italian synagogue and a Spagnola or Levantine synagogue. It was thus a unique area of tightly packed streets and buildings, where over time medieval buildings survived intact.

The sole witness to the old piazza del Mercato is the Colonna della Dovizia or Colonna dell'Abbondanza (Column of Abundance, re-positioned in 1956) on a stepped base. Considered to be the centre of the city, this column was erected at the crossing of the cardo and decumanus of the ancient Roman city. The present column dates to 1431, and is surmounted by a grey sandstone statue of Dovizia (or Abbondanza), by Giovan Battista Foggini, replacing an original by Donatello (found to be irreparably eroded in 1721. Today Foggini's original statue is in Palazzo della Cassa di Risparmio in via dell'Oriuolo, whilst on the column is a 1956 replica.

The piazza "risanata"

The present appearance of the square is the result of the city planning announced and carried out on the proclamation of Florence as the capital of Italy (1865–71), with particularly intense activity in this Piazza between 1885 and 1895. In this period, known as the Risanamento in the commemorative nineteenth-century terminology (or, by its detractors, the sventramento or ruining), large parts of the city centre were demolished.
The arch
The decision to broaden the square allowed the total destruction of buildings of great importance: medieval towers, churches, the corporate seats of the Arti, some palaces of noble families, as well as craftsmen's shops and residences. The demolition was presented as a necessity if the area's insanitary conditions were to be improved, but was in reality led above all to building speculation and to legitimization of the will of the emerging middle-class emergente, protagonist in the events immediately prior to unification.
The town in fact underwent an enormous loss, minimally compensated for by the rescue of monuments like Vasari's Loggia del Pesce that was dismantled and reassembled in piazza dei Ciompi. The appearance of the square before the nineteenth-century demolitions is documented in prints, paintings and drawings in the Museo di Firenze com'era in Via dell'Oriuolo. A plentiful supply of works of art and architectural fragments fed the antiquarian market, and only some of them could be saved for the Museo nazionale di San Marco, whilst others were returned to the town as donations such as those that allowed the founding of the Museo Bardini and Museo Horne. Artists like Telemaco Signorini depicted with melancholy this disappearing part of town

In 1888, after the demolition of the hovels in the center of the Mercato, the old piazza del Mercato Vecchio reappeared, with the Loggia, the Column of Plenty and the church of San Tommaso, but the shrewd restorers preferred to proceed with a more radical demolition yet.
On 20 September 1890, with the building-sites still open to rebuild the palazzoni in the square, the equestrian monument to Vittorio Emanuele II was inaugurated in his presence. This monument gave the piazza its original name. An old photograph taken on the day of the inauguration show the buildings of the square still incomplete and covered for the civil ceremony in scenery representing good luck. The statue, a commemorative and rather rhetorical work which did not please the Florentines, was mocked in a biting sonnet by Vamba, entitled Emanuele a corpo sciolto. Today the sculpture is in piazzale delle Cascine.
The palaces that rose in the new square, painted bitterly by the young Telemaco Signorini, followed the eclectic fashion of the time and had been planned by already well-known architects: Vincenzo Micheli, Luigi Buonamici, Giuseppe Boccini. Following this transformation, the square became a kind of "lounge" for the town; since then refined palaces, luxury hotels, department stores and elegant cafes have sprung up around it, among which the known Caffè delle Giubbe Rosse, where famous scholars and artists met and clashed.

The porticos with the triumphal arch, called the "Arcone", was designed by Micheli and was inspired by the most courtly Florentine Renaissance architecture, even if its additions to that style seem to be distant from the true ancient style. The pompous inscription that dominates the square was dictated, it seems, from Isidoro del Lungo, or another literary source:

L'ANTICO CENTRO DELLA CITTÀ

DA SECOLARE SQUALLORE
A VITA NUOVA RESTITUITO
(The ancient centre of the city / restored from age-old squalor / to new life)

On top of the Arcone is an allegorical group of three women in plaster, representing Italy, Art and Science. The Florentines instead nicknamed them after three famous prostitutes of the era, la Starnotti, la Cipischioni e la Trattienghi. Having deteriorated, the group was removed in 1904.

 
   
Choosing one of the Florence walking tours you'll be able to visit the world-famous museums of the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries, discovering the main historical and artistic treasures of the city.
The tours focus on Florence's major sights and attractions, including the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio and the city's famous churches and Renaissance palaces.
Novelist Henry James called Florence a “rounded pearl of cities -- cheerful, compact, complete -- full of a delicious mixture of beauty and convenience.” The best way to experience the Italian city’s artistry, history and joy of life is by walking the same paths that the Medicis, Michelangelo and James once used.


1 | A Walk Around the Uffizi Gallery

2 | Quarter Duomo and Signoria Square

3 | Around Piazza della Repubblica

4 | Santa Maria Novella

5 | San Niccolo Neighbourhood in Oltrarno

6 | Walking in the Bargello Neighbourhood

7 | From Fiesole to Settignano

 

 

San Miniato al Monte
Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence
Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
in Florence
Florence, Duomo