Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio

Florence's main square is dominated by a castle-like fortress with a 300-foot spire — the Palazzo Vecchio. In Renaissance times, it was the Town Hall, where citizens pioneered the once-radical notion of self-rule. Its official name — Palazzo della Signoria — refers to the elected members of the city council. In 1540, the tyrant Cosimo I de' Medici made the building his personal palace, redecorating the interior in lavish style. So, while the exterior is medieval, the full-size replica of Michelangelo's David outside seems to welcome you into the Renaissance world — and the dawn of our Modern Age.

Watch the full episode: Florence: Heart of the Renaissance

Be there: Join a Rick Steves tour — such as our Best of Venice, Florence & Rome in 10 Days tour