Piazza S. Elisabetta

I found my piazza! And guess what it’s famous for: an ancient female prison!

I discovered Piazza S. Elisabetta when on a walking tour for my first architecture class. The professor led us to an interesting but less-known site in Florence: la Torre Bizantina della Pagliazza. It means “the straw tower.” At first, I didn’t understand why it is called “the straw tower” when it is famous for being possibly the oldest structure in Florence, because it is a rare survivor of the original Roman wall in the 9th century. Then my professor explained that this tower was a female prison…and because it imprisoned ladies, the captives had the luxury of a little bit of straw to use as a pillow (unlike the men who just had to bear with the solid ground). Hence, it is called “the straw tower.”

La Torre della Pagliazza is actually part of a hotel now. It's neat to look at, but I don't think I'd want to sleep there!