Piazza della Repubblica, despite being one of Florence’s busiest squares, has never enjoyed much affection from Florentines. Now, that situation might change due to plans to renovate the piazza.
Former Florence mayor and now Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, had the idea six years ago to introduce a glass cube in the square, similar to Apple’s on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Since that suggestion, however, the square’s conditions have deteriorated further. The paving stones are loose and the outdoor areas of the various bars and restaurants occupy a considerable amount of space and are deemed unattractive by many.
Things are changing: the public prosecutor’s office has moved to Novoli, leaving vacant a 5,000-square-metre building facing the square. The vast premises belong to the bank BNL and include the ground floor, where Florence’s first Apple store will be opened on September 5. (Apple’s chief design officer, Jonathan Ive, is expected to attend the opening.)
The building has changed its purpose: from offices to commercial premises, for which BNL paid an indemnity of 950,000 euro to the City of Florence. These monies will be used to finance the renovation of piazza della Repubblica. The City of Florence is expected to add a further 600,000 euro to the works, which will begin by replacing the paving stones.
Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella has plans to bring a piece of the past back to the piazza: King Vittorio Emanuele II monument, which was moved to the Cascine park in 1932.