Nowhere does a town square quite like Italy. The ancient buildings that surround it; the cobblestones, shiny from centuries of footsteps and horse and carts; the sleepy cafes where you sit and watch the world go by; and the buzzy trattorias filled with tables laden with food – these squares are the heartbeat of Italian life.
One such square stands in Florence: Piazza della Repubblica, whose name alone is pretty marvellous. Lined on one side is Via dei Medici, another name that adds to the grandeur of this historic market site that was the centre of the city in Roman times. It’s an elegant square in a posh part of what is already a posh city and boasts the impressive Column of Abundance monument from 1431. Topped by a statue of the Goddess of Plenty by Donatello, the column used to have a bell that would signal the beginning and end of the busy market. An arch on the eastern side draws the eye, as does the famous Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and Filippo Brunelleschi’s famous dome that peeps over the top of the square, tempting you to come over and say ciao.