Piazza del Popolo was built around 1250 as a setting for the future Palazzo del Popolo. The palace would welcome the Captain of the People (Capitano del Popolo), a political figure of the local administration in medieval Italy, established to balance the power and authority of the noble families.
It is believed that the palace was built on the initiative of the Neri della Greca family, on a pre-existing papal palace of 1157.
Around 1250, the area was cleared and the existing constructions were demolished, so that a proper seat for the Captain of the People could be built.
Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo was completed in the early 14th century, but the building saw many modifications and expansions in the following decades.
The strange bell tower was built in 1315, and the bell which is now located on Torre del Moro was placed inside.
Among the main halls of the palace, there is the Hall of the Four Hundreds (Sala dei Quattrocento), which in 1596 was sold to the Faculty of Law, Theology and Logic, whose lessons were held here, twice a day, until 1651.
Starting with 1651, the palace housed Monte di Pietà, a non-profit financial institution of late-medieval origins, born in Italy in the second half of the 15th century on the initiative of some Franciscan friars. The upper rooms were used as a theater from 1578.
The palace was restored in the late ‘80s, and is currently home to a convention center.
Palazzo del Popolo has a porticoed loggia surmounted by a wide hall with elegant three-mullioned windows opening on its walls, and solemn merlons on top, of a convolute Ghibelline style.
The structure has a bizarre tower on one side, and is embellished by an imposing and evocative entrance staircase on the other side.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo del Popolo is located about 1 kilometer away from Piazza Cahen and the funicular which makes the connection with the Orvieto railway station.
The closest bus stop is located in Vicolo Corsica, about 200 meters away, on the bus route CC.
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