Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), formally known as Piazza del Duomo and sometimes called Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), is the most important square of Pisa. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, the square includes the monuments called miracles by Gabriele d’Annunzio for their beauty and originality: the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, Campo Santo, and the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. The square is pedestrianized and is covered by a large lawn. It assumed its definitive appearance only in the 19th century, under the direction of the architect Alessandro Gherardesca, who demolished some pre-existing buildings and restored the famous monuments. SHORT HISTORY The square as we know it began to take shape in 1063, when the new cathedral of the city named after Santa Maria Maggiore was erected. At that time, the area remained outside the walls of the city, and was included only in 1156, when an expansion of the city walls was realized by the consul Cocco Griffi. Three years before the expansion of the walls, the construction of the new Baptistery began, this time placed in front of the church. In 1173, the construction of Read more [...]
In Italy, a city square, commonly found at the meeting of two or more streets, is a piazza. Every Italian city has a piazza or more, with streets radiating from the center, with green areas and places to rest. As key points in a city, in the squares you can find shops and public transport stations, but the Italians use it especially for evening walks and meetings with friends. Also, the city's main events take place in the central square.
The worlds best known square may be the Piazza San Marco, in Venice, but we must not forget other beautiful squares like Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Piazza del Campo in Siena, Campo dei Miracoli in Pisa, Prato della Valle in Padua, Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, Piazza San Pietro in Vatican, Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna in Rome, or Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples. Moreover, every town in Italy, no matter how small, has a beautiful main square that we invite you to discover.
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a wonderful square in Lucca, built on the remains of an ancient Roman amphitheater, which determined its closed elliptical shape. SHORT HISTORY A large amphitheater was built here in the 1st or the 2nd century BC, started under Emperor Claudius, and completed in the Flavian period. The structure, with fifty-four arches and 18 rows of seats, could accommodate around 10,000 spectators. In the 6th century, during the Gothic Wars, under siege by the Byzantine general Narses, the amphitheatre was fortified by the closure of the outside arches. Following the shape of the ancient amphitheater, the square was born in the Middle Ages. During this era, the square was called parlascio, a word derived from the Latin paralisium, meaning amphitheater. Progressively, the square was filled with buildings, used as warehouses, shops or prison. In the 19th century, thanks to the architect Lorenzo Nottolini, was decided an urban renewal of the structure. The space of the arena was freed from the small buildings that crowded it, and Via dell’ Anfiteatro was built around it. The new space was used for the city market, until – in the first half of the 20th century – the market was moved Read more [...]
With its unique shell shape, Piazza del Campo, the main square of Siena, stands as one of most beautiful in Italy and the world. Renowed as the place where Palio di Siena is held twice a year, Piazza del Campo is a perfect example of cultural and architectural integrity, invaluable for humanity. SHORT HISTORY The first documented information about the square dates back to 1169, describing the arrangement of Il Campo, referring both to the current Piazza del Campo and to the near Piazza del Mercato (Market Square) as a singular area. Starting with 1193, the area was divided in two, and until 1270, the space was used for fairs and markets. In 1262, the first measures to improve the layout of the square were taken, imposing among other things the obligation to build only buildings with mullioned windows and forbidding the construction of terraces. The history of the square is strongly intertwined with that of Palazzo Pubblico, began in 1297 and completed in 1310. At the same time, private palaces were built in the square, Torre dell Mangia was raised between 1325 and 1344, and the square was paved with fishbone-patterned red brick and divided by eight lines Read more [...]
Piazza della Signoria is the main square of Florence, located in the historical center of the city, about 400 meters away from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. SHORT HISTORY It appears that the area of the square was populated since the Neolithic, and it constituted an important fulcrum of the city of Florentia during the Roman times. In the 4th century, a large Christian basilica was built here, which remained in use until the 7th century. In the 8th century, the basilica was replaced with a church dedicated to Santa Cecilia. The square began to take its present shape around the year 1268, when the houses of the Ghibellines that resided in the area were demolished by the Guelphs who won the Battle of Benevento. Only in 1385, the square was paved for the first time. During the same 14th century, Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia della Signoria were built, and the square became the center of the political life of the city. The interventions in the following centuries mainly concerned the sculptural decoration of the square, and culminated during the Grand Ducal period with the transformation of Loggia della Signoria into an open-air museum. The construction of Read more [...]
Piazza dei Cavalieri is, after the more famous Piazza dei Miracoli, the second most important square of the city of Pisa. In ancient times, the square represented the center of civil power, while starting from the second half of the 16th century it became the headquarters of the Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen, commissioned by the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. SHORT HISTORY Starting with 1140, Piazza dei Cavalieri became the heart of Pisa, with buildings and churches used by the different magistrates of the city. After the seizure of power by the Pisan people in 1254, Palazzo degli Anziani (Palace of the Elders), today Palazzo della Carovana, was built by merging pre-existing buildings. The Captain of the People (Capitano del Popolo) resided in the nearby Palazzo dell’Orologio, which belonged to the Gualandi family and incorporated the famous Tower of Muda or Della Fame, where in 1289 the Count Ugolino died. The works for the complete transformation of the square began in 1558, after Cosimo I decided to dedicate it to the Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen, founded with papal approval in 1562. Giorgio Vasari was comissioned to transform the square. The first reconstruction Read more [...]
Piazza San Michele is a beautiful square in Lucca, which gets its name from the imposing Church of San Michele in Foro. The square is also known as Piazza delle Catene, due to the numerous marble columns connected by metal chains which surround it. SHORT HISTORY The square corresponds to the ancient forum of the Roman city, and is tangent to the ancient roads of decumanus (east-west street) and cardo (north-south street). In the square, next to the Church of San Michele in Foro, once stood Palatium Civitatis (Public Palace), a building now gone. Later, the municipal offices were transferred to the Augusta Fortress, in Piazza Napoleone, which was also demolished in 1370. During the medieval period, a canal known as Fossa Natali surrounded the square. To get inside the Church of San Michele in Foro, you had to cross a wooden bridge known as Ponte al Foro. Piazza San Michele was paved for the first time in the 15th century, with bricks in herringbone pattern. In the 18th century, the square was paved with large gray stone bricks and bordered by numerous columns with chains. ARCHITECTURE The square is enclosed by medieval buildings with round and pointed Read more [...]
Piazza San Salvatore, also known as Piazza della Pupporona or Piazza della Misericordia, is a square in Lucca, located about 60 meters away from Piazza San Michele and the Church of San Michele in Foro. SHORT HISTORY The name of Piazza San Salvatore derives from the presence of the homonymous church, built in the 12th century. At least one work in the church – the architrave of the side door, was attributed to Biduino, a sculptor and architect from the Romanesque period. The name of Piazza della Misericordia comes from Arciconfraternita della Misericordia (Archconfraternity of Mercy), which takes care of the Church of San Salvatore since 1818. The square is also called Piazza della Pupporona in homage to the Neoclassical fountain designed by Lorenzo Nottolini and built by Luigi Camolli between 1838 and 1840. The people of Lucca call pupporona to the statue of Naiade, which dominates the fountain, for its exposed breast. ARCHITECTURE The Church of San Salvatore, located on the eastern side of the square, was built before the year 1000, and rebuilt in the 12th century. The church was renovated in the 19th century, during the Bourbon rule of the city. On the southern side Read more [...]
Piazza Cittadella is a small square in Lucca, located between Via di Poggio and Via San Paolino, about 50 meters away from Piazza San Michele and the Church of San Michele in Foro. SHORT HISTORY Piazza Cittadella was initially called Piazza Di Poggio, due to the residence of the Di Poggio family, located in the square, one of the most powerful families of Lucca during the Middle Ages. In 1522, took place the Conspiracy of the Poggi, when the Di Poggio family challenged other patrician families of Lucca for power. The Di Poggio family was defeated, its members were exiled, and the name of the square was changed to Piazza del Grano. Subsequently, the square was named Piazza Cittadella, in honor of another powerful family of Lucca, the Cittadella family. Their residence, Palazzo Cittadella, located in the square, was known at the beginning of the 17th century for its large terrace with a hanging garden. ART AND ARCHITECTURE Piazza Cittadella is famous above all for the presence of the house, now a museum, in which the great composer Giacomo Puccini was born, located in the northeastern corner of the square. In the center of the square, there is Read more [...]
Piazza Antelminelli, also known as Piazza dei Ferri, is a square in Lucca, located near Piazza San Martino and the Cathedral of San Martino. SHORT HISTORY The name of the square derives from the Antelminelli family, who owned some buildings in the area during the 13th century. The buildings were demolished in 1301, to make way for the square. Piazza Antelminelli, which was previously used as a parking lot for residents, became a pedestrian area in 2012, after the restoration of the pavement. ARCHITECTURE In the middle of the square, there is a circular fountain built in marble by Lorenzo Nottolini in 1832. The fountain is surrounded by marble columns joined by chains, from which the name of Piazza dei Ferri derives (ferri means irons in Italian). In the eastern side of the square, there is the small Church of San Giuseppe, the only remnant of the convent of the Jesuit nuns founded in 1518. To the west of the square lies Palazzo Micheletti, a palace built in the mid-16th century by Bartolomeo Ammannati, and to the south is the beautiful Cathedral of San Martino, built between 1060 and 1390. HOW TO GET THERE Piazza Antelminelli is Read more [...]
Piazza Napoleone, commonly known as Piazza Grande, is the main square of Lucca, the place where every year in July is held one of the most important music festivals in Italy, the Lucca Summer Festival. SHORT HISTORY The large Augusta Fortress (Fortezza Augusta) was built on this site during the 14th century, as the residence of Castruccio Castracani, Duke of Lucca. The huge complex, which covered about a fifth of the city, was destroyed by the population in 1370. Subsequently, the ruins of the Fortezza Augusta were restored by Paolo Guinigi, Lord of Lucca, at the beginning of the 15th century, to create a new defensive structure. The new architectural complex was called Cittadella di Lucca, but it was partially destroyed as well after the fall of Paolo Guinigi, in 1429. Finally, on the remains of the Citadel, Palazzo Ducale was built. The square was built in 1806, during the Napoleonic domination, by Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, and dedicated to the French emperor. Under the direction of the architect Giovanni Lazzarini and of the French Pierre-Theodore Bienimé, the square began to develop in the 19th century. The idea was to give greater importance to the Palazzo Read more [...]
Piazza Grande, one of the most beautiful squares in Tuscany, has been the focal point of public life in Arezzo since the ancient times. The Romanesque apse of the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve, built in the 12th century, dominates the west side of the square. Next to the church is the Baroque Palazzo del Tribunale (Palace of Justice) and a little further is the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, where the Museum of the Fraternita dei Laici is located. On the north side, it can be found the Palazzo delle Logge built between 1573 and 1595 after a project by Giorgio Vasari. In front of the Palazzo delle Logge, across the square, there are a series of ancient buildings including the 13th century Torre Faggiolana, the Palazzo Cofani-Brizzolari and the Lappoli tower-house, also from the 13th century. In Piazza Grande, twice a year, in June and September, Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen) take place, a traditional festival with a medieval fragrance. HOW TO GET THERE As the main point of the historical center of Arezzo, Piazza Grande is not hard to find. The nearest bus station is Viale Buozzi Opp 5 – Prato, about 250 Read more [...]
Piazza della Repubblica is one of the main squares of Florence, located in the historical center of the city, about 200 meters away from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. SHORT HISTORY Piazza della Repubblica was the center of the ancient city of Florence during the Roman times. Here, there was the Roman forum, which gathered the most important religious and civil buildings of that period. During the Middle Ages, Piazza della Repubblica was defined as a public space intended for trade, while the square of the Cathedral (Piazza del Duomo) was a place for politics, and Piazza della Signoria for civil affairs. In the 16th century, the square was renamed Mercato Vecchio (Old Market), due to the construction of Loggia del Mercato Nuovo near Ponte Vecchio. Here was also the Jewish Ghetto, where Cosimo I forced the local Jews to reside. The only evidence left of the Old Market square is Colonna della Dovizia (Column of Wealth), also known as Colonna dell’Abbondanza (Column of the Abundance). The current version of the column dates back to 1431 and has on top a statue representing the Abundance, made by Giovan Battista Foggini, who replaced the original by Donatello, irreparably Read more [...]