The city of Florence has a slight problem. It is overrun. Full to bursting. A maze of attractions that most people zip around as though visiting a theme park. In the centre of the city there are few places to escape the shear noise of mass tourism at every turn. There does exist though, one area of respite in the city centre. Not a vast park (in what must be one of Europe’s least green cities, not a chance) but a small piazza, where there are no cafes or restaurants, rather a small set of stone steps, a private garden, a medieval church, 19th century baths (built atop the old Roman baths of course), and a burial ground (deep beneath the cobbles of the square) for unbaptised babies.
If you’re in need of a break from the turmoil of the streets of Florence, then you’re in the minority, and you should head in the direction of Via Tournabuoni and then head down Borgo Santi Apostoli (or go from the opposite side just a few steps away from Ponte Vecchio) until you find the quaint little Piazza del Limbo.
The image below shows a small private garden in the piazza, and next to it, the façade of the Santi Postoli Church.
In the image below on the left are the nineteenth-century Baths, built by Antonio Peppini, that were built on top of the site of the ancient Roman baths of Florence. On the right is the side of Palazzo Borgherini with 2 bas-reliefs and a series of inscriptions.
The name of the piazza – Piazza del Limbo – hints at its slightly macabre past. A place where unbaptised children were laid to rest, the last stop of their mortal body as their souls descend to limbo. They are, according to Dante, in the first circle of Hell. A place where people are not punished or hurt, rather just kept in a state of perpetual suspension, rubbing shoulders with hordes of the dead, a meaningless existence of nothingness.
Of course, the church abolished the idea of limbo back in 2007, so who knows what’s going on there now, however, in the Piazza del Limbo, you can rest assured, that for now at least, it’s a quiet respite from the overflowing streets of Florence, and a far cry from the proverbial limbo on the borderlands of Hell. Although if Limbo is indeed empty of its denizens, perhaps that’s exactly what it is – an empty place hiding from the chaos of Florence.
You might also like the Santi Postoli Church.