The Piazza della Signotia, the main square of Florence, is reminiscent of an open air museum featuring many sculptures, most of which are in fact copies with the originals having been moved elsewhere for safe keeping. Although not the largest square in Tuscany, the Piazza della Signotia is truly magnificent and hence has been developed into one of Florence’s “must see” tourist attractions and since its creation in the 13th century, it has been at the centre of political power in the city.
For many centuries, the Piazza della Signoria has been the main meeting point for the cities inhabitants, and this tradition remains today with a number of events are held throughout the year.
The Fontana del Nettuno or Neptune Fountain was created by Bartolomeo Ammannati using Carrara marble, and depicts the Roman god of the sea surrounded by bronze sea nymphs. Set in the ground in front of the Neptune fountain is a plaque marking the location of the Bonfire of the Vanities, It was here that a monk named Savonarola organized the burning of paintings and other items that he claimed were representative of the decadence of the people of Florence. A few years later the monk fell out of favour with the Pope and on 23rd May 1498, he himself was burnt on the same spot.
An imposing statue depicting Cosimo I Grand Duke of Tuscany sitting astride a horse, was created by Giambologna under the instructions of Cosimo’s son Ferdinando, to celebrate his father’s success in re-establishing the Medici’s as the leading power in Florence. The Statue was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in 1594.
A number of other sculptures are located in the Piazza della Signoria including, to the right hand side of the door of the Palazzo Vecchio, a copy of arguably the most famous sculpture of all, that of Michelangelo’s David, the original of which can be seen in the Galleria dell’Accademia. To the right of the door is a sculpture of Hercules and Cacus, by Baccio Bandinelli.