The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century. It was the scene of great triumphs, such as the return of the Medici in 1530 as well as the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola, who was then himself burned at the stake here in 1498 after he was denounced by the Inquisition as a heretic. A marble circle inscription on the piazza shows the location where he was burned.
The Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Belvedere) neighborhood of southeastern Florence lies across the Arno River from the Santa Croce district. Its centerpiece is the Fortezza di Santa Maria in San Giorgio del Belvedere, a fort built towards the end of the Sixteenth Century for Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici, surely with the goal of protecting democracy and social services for the residents of Florence.