Piazza della Repubblica, Florence
Square in Florence
The Piazza della Repubblica stands as the heart of Florence. At its exact geographical center, the Colonna dell’Abbondanza, or Column of Abundance, marks the ancient midpoint of the Roman Forum. This column also serves as the boundary between three of Florence’s four historic neighborhoods on this side of the Arno River: Santa Croce (symbolized by the color azure), San Giovanni (verdant green), and Santa Maria Novella (rosy red), while the Santo Spirito neighborhood (represented by white) lies on the Oltrarno side.
In the past, a portion of the present-day piazza was used as a market due to its significance as the most vital point in the city, both commercially and socially. Numerous stories and legends related to Florence originate from this square. According to one of these tales, in 1245, St. Peter Martyr was attempting to preach to a large crowd when the devil, taking the form of an imposing black horse, sought to disturb the onlookers by running wild through the market and endangering them. Recognizing the danger, St. Peter raised his arm and made the sign of the cross towards the skittish horse, which abruptly stopped and vanished. Centuries later, in memory of this event, Bernardo Vecchietti commissioned Giambologna to create a bronze standard-bearer in the shape of a small devil, placing it at the corner of his palace between via Vecchietti and via Strozzi.
The current appearance of the piazza can be attributed to the urban renovations carried out when Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, a period known as the “Risanamento.” During this time, older buildings, including medieval towers and noble palaces, were demolished and replaced with elegant structures. Notably, the historic Caffè Le Giubbe Rosse added sophistication to Piazza della Repubblica, transforming it into a bustling center of public life.
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