Florence “piazze” are beautiful places where to relax and grab a coffee surrounded by art and important monuments. Once used as meeting points and trade centres, squares always had an important role in Italian cities. Here’s a list of the top 10 you can't miss during your stay in Florence.
Piazza del Duomo
This is certainly the most famous square of Florence, since it hosts Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral with the famous Brunelleschi dome. Today’s square configuration is the result of a series of works made in 1800 to uniform the present monuments. The Southern part has been modified by Gaetano Baccani, who built some apartments to host the canons between 1826 and 1830. He also built the cast-iron railings around the Duomo complex. The monuments pop up in the middle of the Piazza and expands along its whole perimetry. Piazza del Duomo is the easiest one to find, so if you get lost just look for Brunelleschi dome (you can see it from any street) and go in that direction!
Piazza Santo Spirito
The Oltrarno district is the most interesting one. It’s outside the classic touristic route and it’s well-known for art and nightlife. During the day, indeed, you often find craft markets and art students painting or drawing, while in the nights the square gets full of local and international people who gather together to drink some wine (sometimes too much) or to have dinner. The square looks very artistic and active, people sing and play the guitar, drink or sell their hand-made products... it's the best place to find relax and forget about daily life stress!
Piazza Santa Croce
Santa Croce is the main square of a district full of small bars and restaurants where you can try the famous apericena. This is basically an all-you-can-eat happy-hour: you get a drink (spritz is the most common one) and you have access to a table full of typical Tuscan food, from cheese to cold cuts, to lasagna and so on. The normal price range goes from 8 to 12 euros, and it’s a good way to start the night. Piazza Santa Croce can be easily recognized by the namesake church, a famous monument in the heart of Florence. On its side there’s a big statue representing the Italian poet Dante, the writer of the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy). It was erected in 1865 in occasion of the sixth centenary festival of Dante Alighieri. Placed in the centre of the square at the beginning, it was moved next to the church after 1966’s flood.
This is certainly a masterpiece. The David (no, it’s not the real one), The Rape of the Sabines Women, Palazzo Vecchio with its tower, The Fountain of Neptune, Loggia dei Lanzi…Art is everywhere! This square has always been considered the political centre of Florence. This open-air museum started to take today's shape in 1268, when the Guelphs took control of the city and destroyed 36 Ghibellines bases. The square changed its shape into an L, which is the same we see now.
Piazza della Repubblica
If you look for Florence pictures you’ll certainly see some with a carousel. Placed in Piazza della Repubblica, the atmosphere created by its lights and the music of some street artist is unique especially at sunset. There’s also a flower market On Thursday which is worth visiting. This Piazza was created during Renaissance, when Florence became capital of Italy (the so called Regno d’Italia to be precise) in the second half of 1800. The square sees today the presence of street artists and literary cafes, you can stroll about and take a photo to the Arco dell’Abbondanza, the most visible monument of the Piazza.
The most impressive thing of this square is the view! Being on the top of a small hill, Piazzale Michelangelo gives the possibility to admire Florence from the top, with all its monuments and the huge Brunelleschi dome. You can arrive there both on foot and by car/bus: you’ll recognize it because of the David statue (again, not the real one) and the big amount of people watching the city and taking pictures.
Santa Maria Novella
This is the first Piazza you’ll see if you come by train. Santa Maria Novella is indeed just in front of Florence main train station and it’s easy to find because of its church. Tourists tend to avoid the visit to this religious meeting point, which is a real pity if we think about all the beautiful works of art which can be found inside the Gothic building. Masaccio’s Trinity - one of the first examples of perspective applied to art, Giotto’s Crucifix, the Strozzi Chapel and more are all in Santa Maria Novella, making it one of the most important churches in Florence.
Piazza De’ Ciompi
Piazza De’ Ciompi has a typical Renaissance structure. The name comes from the Medieval workers who were not registered in any Corporation (the so called “Arti”) and hosts today a second-hand market. Loggia del Pesce by Vasari is here too, although it was at first placed in Mercato Vecchio square, today’s Piazza della Repubblica. Ah! Lorenzo Ghiberti’s house is at street number 11!
Piazza San Lorenzo
Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the most ancient churches of Florence and gives the name to the Piazza too. Can you believe that this church was once the city Cathedral? It is also the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III and the parish church of the Medici family. Piazza San Lorenzo is situated in the market district, which makes it a good place to relax after some shopping or the visit to the Central Market.
Piazza Santissima Annunziata
This elegant square follows the Renaissance style and was projected by Brunelleschi. There’s a big space in the center with a statue of Ferdinando I De’ Medici made by Giambologna, while many important buildings occupy the sides of the Piazza. Basilica di Santissima Annunziata is one of them: this church is dedicated to the Holy Mary and it’s famous for a painting representing the Annunciazione which is inside this impressive building. A curiosity about this square: if you look at Palazzo Grifoni (the red building), you’ll notice that the last window on the right is opened. Legend says that in 1500 a couple used to live there till when they were tragically divided by the war. The girl waited for his lover looking from that window all her life, but unfortunately he never came back. After her death the window was at the beginning closed, but then left open to remember their love story.
Florence has many secrets places and stories that you can find out just when in company of a local! Why don't you join our Walking Tours to get to know it better? Our Guides are local experts and will share their passion for Florence telling you everything about it!