This dramatic statue in Ferrara depicts Girolamo Savonarola, a fiery reformist Dominican priest of the 15th century. Still somewhat controversial today, Savonarola organized the “Bonfires of the Vanities” in which Florentines burned their books, fancy clothes and other too-materialistic possessions. This crowd might or might not have included Michelangelo and Botticelli tossing their own work on the pyres.

After some disagreement with the Medici pope Alexander VI, Savonarola was excommunicated and subsequently arrested, tortured and executed in Florence. To deprive his followers of any relics, the authorities threw his ashes into the Arno. Despite that, there are statues today, and some even call Savonarola a saint.

In the short time that I loitered in this piazza, several people had their photos taken in front of the statue, but despite my urging, none struck Savonarola’s pose. I wonder how many knew even as much about him as I’ve gleaned.