A square is called piazza in Italian. A piazza is usually a public open space enclosed within an inhabited center. Probably, every town in Italy has at least one piazza, a central point to which the streets of the city converge.
The main square of a town covers a variety of functionalities – it gathers the main buildings of the municipality and the most important churches of the city, is the space where the most important events are held and provides a meeting point for the people of the city.
Italy has many beautiful squares and many worth mentioning, but we tried to highlight only ten of them, which we consider to be the most interesting. If you do not agree, tell us in a comment below.
10. PIAZZA DELL’ANFITEATRO, LUCCA
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, in Lucca, may not be among the most well known squares in Italy, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful. Its closed elliptical shape is near perfection, and the effect it has on the visitor is quite strong.
Born in the Middle Ages, the square was built on the remains of an ancient Roman amphitheater from the 1st or the 2nd century BC. Today, the square is enclosed by yellow buildings of different heights and the access to the square is made through 4 vaulted portals.
9. PIAZZA DEL POPOLO, ROME
Piazza del Popolo is one of the most beautiful square in Rome, due especially to the collection of monuments it gathers – three churches (Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo and the twin churches of Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli), one large gate (Porta del Popolo), two fountains and an Egyptian obelisk (Obelisco Flaminio).
For the current shape of Piazza del Popolo and for many of its monuments, responsible is the architect Giuseppe Valadier, who, at the time of the Napoleonic occupation, redesigned the square. Thanks to his intervention, the square assumed the elliptical shape it has today, and the double exedra decorated with fountains and statues.
8. PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA, FLORENCE
Piazza della Signoria is the main square of Florence, the seat of civil power and the heart of the social life of the city. In the past, the square had different names, such as Piazza dei Priori or Piazza del Granduca.
The L-shaped square is located in the central part of medieval Florence, south of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Here, you can find the magnificent Palazzo Vecchio, the beautiful Loggia dei Lanzi, also known as Loggia della Signoria, Tribunale della Mercanzia (Tribunal of Merchandise), Palazzo Uguccioni, Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali and the famous statues of David, Hercules and Cacus, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, Fountain of Neptune and many others.
7. PIAZZA DEL PLEBISCITO, NAPLES
Piazza del Plebiscito is the most beautiful square in Naples, with an area of about 25,000 square meters. The square is bordered at one end by the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) and at the other by the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola.
Besides the two buildings above, the square hosts the Palace of the Prefecture (Palazzo della Prefettura), Palazzo Salerno and the equestrian statues of Ferdinand of Bourbon and Charles III.
6. PIAZZA NAVONA, ROME
The second square of Rome featured on this list is Piazza Navona. Built on the site of a Roman stadium, it follows its oval shape. A public space since the 16th century, Piazza Navona was transformed into a significant example of Baroque Roman architecture during the pontificate of Pope Innocent X, from the Pamphili family.
In the center of the square stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Besides the fountain, here we can find the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, Pamphili Palace, Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain), Fountain of Neptune, Church of Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore, Palazzo de Cupis, Palazzo Torres Massimo Lancellotti and Palazzo Braschi.
5. PIAZZA DEL CAMPO, SIENA
Piazza del Campo is the main square in Siena, renowed as the place where, twice a year, the Palio di Siena is held. The hemicyclic shape resembling a shell makes this square one of the most beautiful squares in Italy.
Various palaces enclose the square, but, of all the buildings, the most important is Palazzo Pubblico, built in the 14th century, and its Torre del Mangia, built about 50 years later. At the northwest edge of the square, we can find the wonderful Fonte Gaia.
4. ST. PETER’S SQUARE, VATICAN CITY
Piazza San Pietro is located in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica, in Vatican City, and is the main meeting point for the Catholic faithful from all over the world. The most important redesign of the square was made by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the 17th century, during the pontificate of Pope Alexander VII.
The St. Peter’s Square is surrounded by 284 columns, set out in rows of four, and 88 pilasters, with 140 statues of saints above the columns. In the square, besides the St. Peter’s Basilica, we can find an Egyptian obelisk and two beautiful fountains, built by Carlo Maderno and Bernini.
It’s true, technically, Piazza San Pietro is not in Italy, but if you can see it when you visit Rome, we thought about putting it on the list.
3. PRATO DELLA VALE, PADUA
Prato della Valle is the largest square in Europe, with an area of 88,620 square meters. The current configuration dates back to the 18th century and is characterized by a central elliptical island, Isola Memmia, surrounded by a canal with an outer circumference of 1450 meters.
Prato della Valle is famous for its 78 statues placed on the edge of the canal which surrounds the island. The statues depict personalities who were connected, in the past, with the city. Besides these, here we can also find the Basilica of Santa Giustina, the neoclassical palace Loggia Amulea and many interesting palazzi built between the 14th and the 18th centuries.
2. PIAZZA DEI MIRACOLI, PISA
Piazza dei Miracoli, or Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), as it’s sometimes called, is an important center of European medieval art located in Pisa and one of the greatest architectural complexes in the world.
The square gathers four religious edifices: the Cathedral of Pisa, the Baptistry, the Campanile (the Leaning Tower of Pisa) and the Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental Cemetery). Besides these, in the square we can also find the Ospedale Nuovo di Santo Spirito (New Hospital of Holy Spirit) and Palazzo dell’Opera.
1. ST. MARK’S SQUARE, VENICE
When you’re in Venice, look for the arrows per San Marco and you will find, in the end, the most beautiful square in Italy, the St. Mark’s Square, a collection of religious, cultural, historical symbols, and a symbol in itself.
Piazza San Marco brings together invaluable buildings, such as the Doge’s Palace, the St. Mark’s Basilica, the Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio), the Sansovino National Library, the Procuratie wings, home to the Correr Museum, and last but not least, the St. Mark’s Bell Tower (Campanile di San Marco).