Giambologna's equestrian statue of Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici commands the scene from the centre of this majestic square, dominated by the facades of Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata (1250), rebuilt by Michelozzo et al in the mid-15th century, and the Ospedale degli Innocenti, Europe's first orphanage founded in 1421. Look up to admire Brunelleschi's classically influenced portico, decorated by Andrea della Robbia (1435–1525) with terracotta medallions of babies in swaddling clothes

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At the north end of the portico, the false door surrounded by railings was once a revolving door where unwanted children were left. You can pay €3 to visit its lovely courtyard (open 9am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday), but the interior is closed for major restoration works; when it reopens (date unknown) it will host a new Museum of Childhood.

About 200m southeast of the piazza is the Museo Archeologico, whose rich collection of finds, including most of the Medici hoard of antiquities, plunges you deep into the past and offers an alternative to Renaissance splendour. On the 1st floor you can either head left into the ancient Egyptian collection or right for the smaller section of Etruscan and Graeco-Roman art.