There are statues and sculptures all over Florence, but Piazza della Signoria is the jackpot of outdoor art. Although the square is the home of the famous Palazzo Vecchio, the hub of government and politics of the time, the square offers more than architecture. To the right of the old political palace is a loggia, or outdoor room, where many sculptures are on display for all to see. Each piece has its own story and meaning, making this a must-see. The best part; it’s absolutely free.
Enter inside the main doors of the palace and you will find yet another outdoor (and free) surprise. The arches in the entry courtyard are intricately painted and the frescoes are well preserved so they can still be enjoyed today. The columns of the arches are each designed and carved with great craftsmanship, and the fountain in the middle is just the right touch so as to not overpower.
Outside the palace, to the left of the entrance stands a life-sized replica of Michelangelo’s David. Many people think he is the real deal since he seems so perfect, but David‘s real home is in Galleria dell’Accademia. The replica stands tall and beautiful nonetheless and is a popular photo location for tourists. To the right of the entrance is Bartolomeo Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus; a great view from all angles.
To the left of David stands Neptune’s Fountain, adding to even more amazing art filling the square. He is an incredibly imposing figure, and surprisingly photogenic.
Adjacent to this square is the Uffizi Gallery, but you don’t have to go inside to feast your eyes on some stunning sculptures and statues. Between the two wings of the gallery is the narrow courtyard walkway which takes you from Piazza della Signoria to the Arno river. Every other column of this long outdoor hallway features a statue. If you pay close attention, you will realise that you’ve been walking among statues of the greats of Florence’s Renaissance period. Alighieri, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Giotto, Da Vinci, and the likes stand tall and proud. Walking down this corridor is almost haunting. With their fixed marble gazes and stern expressions, these sculptures still exude knowledge and power. You can’t help but feel small for a moment, thinking of the cultural inheritance we owe to these great men.
In another part of the city stands the great equestrian statue of Ferdinando I, the centrepiece of Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. The arches on the outside of the buildings are covered in intricate statuettess depicting the building’s history as a church-run orphanage. The equestrian statue is facing the duomo of Florence, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, with a direct street view which makes for a great photo that many tourists miss.
Another must-see is the large statue of Dante Alighieri in front of Basilica Santa Croce. The statue was erected to celebrate the poet’s 600th birthday. Though this is a large statue, his eyes are piercing. Many more notable statues in Florence are located on the grounds of Boboli Garden. Although there is an admission price of €10 (US$ 10.51), it’s well worth the time spent exploring the 11 acres of green, fountains, museums, and outdoor sculptures.
There are countless other statues and sculptures around the city you need to see, however the list of them all would simply be too long. Florence is absolutely full of outdoor art, so no matter what corner you turn, you’re bound to be surprised by something beautiful. Explore the city and see for yourself.