sites of public execution


During the height of the Italian Renaissance, a political reformer and Dominican priest named Savonarola began to gain power. He organized the famous "Bonfire of the Vanities" on February 7, 1497 in the Piazza della Signoria. This was a huge fire to destroy objects that might tempt one to sin, including vanity items such as mirrors, cosmetics fine dresses, and secular art and music objects such as musical instruments, books and paintings. Among the burned were several paintings by Sandro Botticelli, a follower of Savonarola for a time, who burned the paintings himself.

Eventually the tides turned and on May 13, 1497, Savonarola was excommunicated. In 1498, Pope Alexander VI demanded his arrest and execution. After weeks of torture and a forced confession to crimes such as heresy, uttering prophecies, and sedition, he was taken out to the Piazza della Signoria along with his cohorts Fra Silvestro and Fra Domenico da Pescia. The three were hanged in chains from a single cross, an enormous fire was lit beneath them, and they were thereby burned in the same place where the Bonfire of the Vanities was lit.


Site of Public Execution by Burning at the Stake of Girolamo Savonarola
May 23, 1498

(Piazza della Signoria, Florence)

20 x 21", 2007