Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The town square that became a museum

Some say the best things come in small packages. When it comes to classic craftsmanship and Italian icons, just like Sigaro Toscano the Piazza della Signoria more than lives up to the saying. To the untrained eye, this attractive part of Florence is just like any other classic European square, bustling with life and lined with small cafés where people meet to swap stories and take a break from their day. But look a little closer and you’ll see some of the world’s most iconic statues, many of which have been watching over the square for centuries.

There’s Michelangelo’s David, gazing out from the front of the Palazzo Vecchio, (well, it’s now a replica, but he’s still standing), Bandinelli’s Hercules, the Neptune fountain, and Donatello’s Marzocco lion. And when you’ve explored the statues standing in the open air, there are plenty more waiting for you in the Loggia dei Lanzi, a 14th Century art gallery built to protect some of the more delicate artworks.

Things weren’t always this peaceful. Piazza della Signoria dates back to the 13th Century, where two of Florence’s most powerful families were at war – the Uberti’s and the Buondelmonti’s. When the Uberti’s lost the Battle of Benevento, their properties were razed to the ground and the rubble left for a decade as a sign of victory. When it was finally cleared, the area became an open square and the beautiful time-capsule of renaissance Italy you’ll see today.