One of the most elegant squares in the whole of Italy, Piazza della Signoria is as grand and fascinating as its tumultuous history.

This square is the perfect place to soak up the city’s atmosphere, even if you’ll be doing it with hundreds of other tourists. For a quieter experience, take a stroll there in the evening, and sit under the Loggia dei Lanzi to admire the view.

If Piazza Duomo was the religious core of the city, Piazza della Signoria had always been the political one. Dominated by the handsome 14th century Palazzo Vecchio, the square hosts a sort of open-air sculpture museum, the Loggia dei Lanzi, and a copy of Michelangelo’s David – a symbol of Florentine pride.

What to see in Piazza della Signoria:

Palazzo Vecchio Museum – one of the most rewarding places in Florence, for those interested in its history. A severe looking building whose name means ‘old palace’, it had been the seat of the government since the beginning of 1300. In the 16th century the ruling Medici had the interior completely renovated. Outside are the world famous David, and the Florentine “Marzocco”, the fierce lion holding Florence’s coat of arms. Both statues are copies. The David original is in the Accademia, and the Marzocco original is in the Bargello. Tours can be pre-booked.

Loggia dei Lanzi – an elegant loggia that hosts sculptures from the Roman to late Renaissance period. The masterpieces are the handsome “Perseus” holding Medusa’s head, with intricate details, and the captivating “Rape of the Sabine women” by Giambologna.

Museo Gucci – fashion victims shouldn’t miss the history of the Gucci brand, founded in Florence in 1921. This little gallery shows some great pieces from Gucci’s archive alongside a café.

Uffizi Caffetteria – if you’re visiting the Uffizi, don’t miss the rooftop café, from where you can take interesting photos of the square.

Caffe’ Rivoire – is one of Florence’s historical cafés. It’s been here since 1872, where it became famous for serving the best hot chocolate in town.

Did you know?  The “Marzocco Fiorentino” heraldic lion.

The Florentine Republic adopted the lion as its symbol as it represented strength and fortitude. and the Medici family kept it when they came into power. You’ll see plenty of them around Florence and in other Tuscan towns that were under Florentine rule.