When you arrive to Piazza della Repubblica, your eyes are instantly attracted by the impressive triumphal arch. Near the Arcone, you discover the gorgeous carousel from the beginning of the 20th century and, a little further, the Column of Abundance (Colonna della Dovizia), but this is not all. You have to turn around a few times and take a few breaths to perceive it as a whole.
Piazza della Repubblica is the center of the city since Roman times, when here was the forum which gathered the most important religious and civil buildings of that period.
Over time, this area maintained its function as a meeting place, starting to host the market, which was institutionalized after the year 1000. Piazza della Repubblica it was defined as a public space intended for trade, while the square of the Duomo (Piazza del Duomo) was a place for politics and Piazza della Signoria for civil affairs.
In the 16th century, the square was renamed Mercato Vecchio (Old Market), due to the construction of the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo near the Ponte Vecchio. Here was also the Jewish Ghetto, where Cosimo I had forced to reside the Jews in the city.
The only evidence left of the Old Market square is the Colonna della Dovizia or the Colonna dell’Abbondanza. The current version of the column dates back to 1431 and has on top a statue representing the Abundance, made by Giovan Battista Foggini, who replaced the original by Donatello, irreparably deteriorated in 1721.
The current appearance of the square is due to the interventions implemented following the proclamation of Florence as the Capital of Italy in 1865. Some works in Piazza della Repubblica were made between 1885 and 1895, in a period known as the Risanamento (Healing the city).
On 20 September 1890, the monument of Vittorio Emanuele II was inaugurated in the presence of the king, which gave the name of the square at that time.
The arcades with the triumphal arch, designed by Vincenzo Micheli in 1895, were inspired by the Florentine Renaissance architecture, but the modern additions made them far from the true ancient style.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest bus station, named also Piazza Della Repubblica, is right at the edge of the square, where you can get with the bus Line C2. If you are exploring Florence on foot, use the map below.