Piazza della Signoria has
been the political heart of the city from the Middle Ages
to the present day. It is a singular urbanistic creation that
began taking shape from 1268 onwards, when the Guelph party
gained control of the city again and decided to raze the houses
of their Ghibelline rivals to the ground.
The first to be destroyed were the towers belonging to the
Foraboschi and the Uberti families, in spite of the fact that
the head of the family (the famous Farinata celebrated by
Dante in his "Comedy"), had defended the city from
destruction after its army had been disastrously defeated
at the battle of Montaperti (September 4th 1260) by the Ghibelline
coalition led by Siena.
In the end 36 houses were demolished which explains the unusual
"L" shape of the square and why the buildings around
it are unaligned, all that remained after the city's enemies
had all been "wiped out" (nothing was ever to be
built on the site again).
Its gets its name of course from the most important monument
there, Palazzo della Signoria, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio
in 1298-99 (much of it already completed by 1302, only three
years later) for the seat of the Republican government and
which was later to host the Gonfalonier of Justice and the
Priors of the Arts (it was in fact at first called Palazzo