Here on the west side of the baptistery is the Piazza San Giovanni. The opposite side is the Piazza del Duomo. The Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista is at the center of the piazzas. It’s foundation dates back to the 4th century AD. The entrance opposite the baptistery is the ticket office where you can purchase tickets for the baptistery as well as all other monuments. The Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, took 140 years to build. The name translates to “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower” but most people simply call it the Duomo. The “flower” refers to Jesus Christ as the first fruit of our salvation, germinated on the ‘stalk’ (Mary) from the ‘roots’ of David’s family. Entrance to the Duomo is free but the line can be extremely long. The three bronze doors date from 1899 to 1903. The original facade of the Duomo was left incomplete until 1897. It was mostly bare brick before that. **Please Subscribe and click the Bell to receive notifications for upcoming videos** With nearly 60 million tourists a year, Italy is the fifth most visited country. The Duomo is 502 ft (153 m) long. It is 300 ft (90m) at its widest and 376 ft (114.5m) at its highest. With a floor area of 89,000 sq ft (8,300 sq m), the Duomo can accomodate over 20,000 people. In 1339, Florence become the first city in Europe to pave all its streets. It was here on this street, Via dei Calzaiuloi, that artists like Donatello and Michelozzo had their workshops. Via dei Calzaiuli offers a variety of shops and stretches 400m to the Piazza della Signoria. If you are going to Florence with kids, take note of the location of the Disney store. In 1865, shortly after Italy became unified, Florence became the capital of Italy for being the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Six years later, in 1871, Rome became the new capital of Italy. Up ahead is the Piazza della Repubblica which was originally the site of the city’s Roman Forum. The column ahead was erected in the 15th century and marked the intersection of two Roman roads at the center of Florence. This area was once the location of the Jewish Ghetto as well as the Mercato Vecchio (Old Market). The ghetto and market were demolished between 1885 and 1895 for the new piazza as part of an urban renewal project. Plans for the urban renewal project began the day after Florence became the capital of Italy. As a result of the renewal project, 26 roads were lost, 341 residential buildings were demolished as well as 451 shops. The building on the corner is the Palazzo dell’Arte della Lana. It was originally a tower built in 1308. The L’Arte della Lana (Wool Art) was one of the seven major arts of the guilds of arts and crafts in Florence. This loggia was originally built for the sale of silk and luxury goods but today the vendors sell leather and souvenirs. The New Market has a more common name in Florence, the Loggia del Porcellino, or Loggia of the Piglet. This fountain of a wild boar was originally at the other end of the market and was meant to give nearby workers a continuous water supply. The original boar statue is now in a museum. This is a replica that was placed here in 2008. For centuries visitors have been rubbing the nose of the boar and dropping a coin in to the grating below for good luck. Copies of the wild boar sculpture can be found all over the world including Australia, Canada, Japan and in at least 15 US states. The Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) is the current town hall of Florence. The palace was originally named after the Signoria which was the government of the medieval Republic of Florence. The Signoria consisted of nine men called the Priori who were selected for two months of government service by picking their name out of a leather bag. This area has been an important gathering place since Roman times. This formation of the piazza dates back to 1268 but it wasn’t paved until 1385. The palace was built in 1330 and this area soon became the center of the city’s political life. This equestrian statue is of the first Grand Duke of Tuscany and was completed in 1594. This Fountain of Neptune, created by Bartolomeo Ammannati, was the first public fountain in Florence. Michelangelo’s David, a masterpiece of world sculpture and symbol of the Renaissance was originally on display here in the piazza. It took the 25 year old Michelangelo three years to complete the David starting in 1501 with what was considered an imperfect piece of marble. The current statue of David is a copy made in 1910. The original David is now in the Accademia Gallery. The bronze statue, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, was first revealed to the public here in the piazza in 1554. The Loggia, also known as the Loggia dei Lanzi, was built to house dignitaries during ceremonies and public events. The House of Medici was a political dynasty that ruled Florence for 300 years except for two brief intervals. **Please Subscribe and click the Bell to receive notifications for upcoming videos** When the Florentines expelled the Medici in 1494, they celebrated by bringing Donatello’s statue of Judith and Holofernes here. The Medici regained power in 1512. To warn potential enemies, the duke commissioned the sculpture of Perseus and the beheaded Medusa. This lion was created in 1598 while the lion on the right of the steps dates back to Antiquity. Carved into the stones of the Palazzo Vecchio is a piece of graffiti some think was created by Michelangelo. The Uffizi Gallery houses one the largest collections of Renaissance art in the world. The gallery first opened to the public in 1769, twenty five years after the last heir of the Medici family moved out leaving the entire art collection to Florence. The building was originally built to house the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the name uffizi, “offices.” The gallery has over two million visitors each year making it the most visited gallery in Italy. In 1565, the Vasari Corridor was built for the wedding of a Medici heir. The one kilometer long corridor stretches across the Ponte Vecchio and joins the Uffizi Gallery with the Pitti Palace. Prior to the corridor being built, the Ponte Vecchio housed butcher shops where it was easy to throw waste into the Arno river below. When the corridor was built, all butcher shops were ordered off the bridge and were replaced with jewelry shops. The corridor is directly above this sidewalk. During WWII, Germany invaded Italy to block the Allied advance in Europe. Every bridge crossing the Arno was destroyed except for the Ponte Vecchio. **Please Subscribe and click the Bell to receive notifications for upcoming videos** For many years it was common to see “love locks” attached to railings around the bridge and other historic sites. The locks have now all been removed and there is a fine for attaching love locks to the bridge. The bronze bust atop the fountain is of the great Florentine sculpture and master goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571). Benvenuto Cellini was the sculpture of the Perseus with the Head of Medusa statue at the Loggia della Signoria.