If you find yourself near the Piazza della Signoria then just around the corner is the church of Orsanmichele. This building came from humble beginnings, originally built as the cities market and grain store in the 13th century and was later transformed into a church.
At a glance the building may not look particularly special however, you’ll probably notice the series of sculptures surrounding the building. At the beginning of the Renaissance period the various guilds in Florence were each given the opportunity to commission a sculpture. It was a chance for the guilds to represent themselves by depicting a Saint, it was fiercely competitive and some of the great masters including Donatello, Ghiberti and Verrocchio were tasked with the project. It was also a chance for the guilds to show off their wealth, many of the sculptures are created out of marble whilst the wealthier guilds used bronze. A number of the sculptures outside the building today are replicas but some of the originals can be found inside in the museum.
If you get a chance to go inside you’ll also see the lavish gothic tabernacle that frames the work of the Madonna and child. The church also has a museum where you’ll see some of the original sculptures that were in the niches around the building. Be sure to check the opening times before you go!