One of the most memorable scenes in the film adaptation of the novel Ivory and Merchant by EM Forster is a room with a View facing the incomparable Piazza Della Signoria in Florence, where Lucy and George, the main characters, fatally doomed to love, saw how a brawl ended in the tragic death of a young Italian.
The contrast between the Apollonian qualities of art that are possible to appreciate there, not only as the neighboring Uffizi Gallery or the harmonious beauty of the buildings but of the pagan sculptures that punctuate the square, including the Perseus of Benvenuto Cellini and copies of Donatello and Michelangelo, as well as the Dionysian impulse, disintegrator and chthonic that makes the scene witnessed by George, who comes to the fountain in the square to clean the blood that has fallen on some postcards that witness the beauty of the surroundings, is the key element that shows how both of them have experienced something “terrible” that somehow, should not only change their lives, but their passive perception of ancient beauty to which they had been taught to worship to the Renaissance, discovering in it, as in his own existence, that essential tension which is the breath of all that lives between creation and destruction, order and chaos, the Apollonian and Dionysian.
While it is true that few places are ideal to that epiphany as the Piazza della Signoria, the fact remains, that though perhaps it is the most celebrated, is not the only memorable place in Florence. Of course it could hardly be in a city where there is Piazza del Duomo, site of three of the founding moments and milestones of the Renaissance and important moments in the history of Western art.
We refer of course to both the performance of the Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise at the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore by Brunelleschi, but also that day in 1425 in which he announced the prospect installing a small device shaped optical wooden box on a stand facing the Baptistery transforming forever the history of painting and accelerating the development of techniques for imaging, since inevitably identified with a place in real space and never immortal and accordingly.
If Brunelleschi announced the prospect, Alberti, creator of the iconic and beautiful facade of Santa Maria Novella, was in charge of formalizing the system and Massachio the first painter to use it in the breathtaking fresco The Trinity can be admired in the same church, located in a square of the same name which competes with the above to be the most memorable of Florence.
More modest but charming, by virtue of its antiquity, the Renaissance palaces that surround it, the monumental Basilica and the craft market, is the Piazza di San Lorenzo. You´ll have trouble when choosing one of them to visit when renting apartments in Florence