Piazza Ghiberti reopens to public

Construction in this central piazza has finally been finished and it is once again accessible to the public, but only on foot or bicycle

Editorial Staff
April 28, 2005

The reopening of a large area of Piazza Ghiberti was celebrated this past weekend. The square had been closed for years due to the construction of an underground parking garage and, to the relief of local vendors and inhabitants, the works have finally been finished and the greatly enlarged piazza and garage below are now both open.


Piazza Ghiberti, which is the square where the Sant’Ambrogio Market is located, has long been a hub for market activities and a neighborhood meeting point. Some of the best restaurants in Florence are located on the square or nearby. It is also one of the few areas of the centre that has witnessed a resurgence in local artisan shops. The nearby Sant’Ambrogio church is small and unassuming, but is notable as one of Florence’s oldest churches, constructed between the 5th and 9th centuries.


When construction began several years ago on the underground parking garage, the neighborhood metamorphosized. Residents and retailers were forced to adapt to an area that was now only open to foot traffic. Because of both the large construction works blocking roads around the square, and regulations that are just now going into effect that would eventually ban auto circulation in the historic centre, this area was forced to quickly accept some drastic changes. Market vendors and shopkeepers on surround-ing streets were worried that clients would no longer come, and that businesses would fail.


Over the years business did slow somewhat, a bar closed, and residents had to cope with major drilling and even the demolition of a few buildings.


But, now, the works have finally been finished and Piazza Ghiberti has more than doubled in size, expanding all the way to the building that houses the editorial offices of Florence’s largest daily newspaper, La Nazione.


The ban on car traffic will remain, making this a very large area accessible only to foot traffic or by bicycle. And, to facilitate alternative means of travel here and in the centre, a “Mille e una bici” point has been set up in the square. It is one of several bike rental points throughout the city, created by the Commune of Florence. Bikes can be rented for just 1 Euro per day or for a monthly fee of 15 Euro and then returned to any of the numerous rental points when finished.

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