Piazza della Repubblica's lone "Column of Abundance" may seen like just another beautiful Florentine monument, placed there simply for aesthetic reasons. But as we know, almost nothing Florence is without a backstory.
The column traces its roots back to Roman Florence, when it stood in the middle what was then the city's ancient Forum (or commercial center). Seeing that the middle of the Forum also happened to be the exact meeting point of all four entry gates to the ancient city's East, West, South and North neighborhoods, the column was also erected for a spiritual purpose. In fact, the Romans commissioned a statue of the deity "Abundantia" to place on top of it, with the hopes that it would bring prosperity and good fortune to all of the city's inhabitants.
The column was then replaced in the 50s A.D. and then updated again by the great artist Donatello in 1431, who sculpted a piece for it (unfortunately now lost). What has remained, however, are two wrought-iron rings on the column: the top one had a bell attached to it to announce the opening and closing of the markets, and the bottom one was used to tie up robbers and cheaters for public shaming and mocking.
This unique treasure also marks the convergence of the four historic neighborhoods of Florence that for hundreds of years have been battling each other during Calcio Storico matches: the Santo Spirito (white), Santa Maria Novella (red), San Giovanni (green), and Santa Croce (blue) quartieres. But that's a whole other story!
Column of Abundance, Piazza della Repubblica.