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Piazza dei Cavalieri
(Knights' Square)

 

It seems likely that the Piazza dei Cavalieri or Square of the Knights has been an important meeting place since the days of Ancient Rome. It is likely that the Forum was located here. Under the reign of Cosimo I de' Medici the area was transformed into the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of Santo Stefano.

Although most of the square's buildings are not open to the public, it is worth taking a stroll through the pedestrianized piazza to admire their fine exteriors.

Look out for the Palazzo della Carovana, the facade of which, before a restoration, was covered in graffiti celebrating the exploits of the ruling Medici family. Today the palace is home to the Scuola Normale Superiore.

The Palazzo dell'Orologio has a more gruesome history. Once a hospice and then a prison it is where Count Ugolino, who featured in Dante's Divine Comedy, and his unfortunate family were imprisoned and died.

Also in the Piazza dei Cavalieri are the Palazzo del Consiglio dei Dodici and a rectory which housed the Knights' chaplains.