Piazza della Signoria was the centre of the political world in Florence. Ever since the fifteenth century, it has been witnessing important historical events, from the triumph of the Medici family to the famous "Bonfire of the Vanities", the great fire that Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola had wanted and in which he burned all the objects he considered sinful, including books and paintings by important artists such as Botticelli. A year later, Savonarola was accused of heresy and was hanged and burned at the stake in the same Piazza della Signoria and in the same spot as the bonfire, as a marble tondo placed in front of the fountain of Neptune reminds us.
It was in this Square that, in 1559, Cosimo I dei Medici, through a competition won by Bartolomeo Ammannati, had the first public fountain of the city of Florence built. The monument to Neptune, which the Florentines, with simple pride, call "il Biancone" (the White Giant) because of the beautiful white marble from which it was made, represented the seafaring achievements of the Grand Duke of Tuscany: from the design of the city of Livorno to the founding of the Order of Santo Stefano, which was to watch over and protect people and goods being carried across the Mediterranean sea. Water was supplied to the fountain thanks to an ingenious aqueduct. You can read its story here .
Palazzo Vecchio overlooks the square, as does the Loggia dei Lanzi, in which there is a collection of statues including the Perseus by Cellini and the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna.