Palazzo del Popolo, or Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, is an imposing palace in Orvieto, located in the homonymous square, Piazza del Popolo.
The square was born around 1250 to host the Palazzo del Popolo, the palace which would welcome the Capitano del Popolo (Captain of the People), a political figure of the local administration in medieval Italy, established to balance the power and authority of 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, and Piazza del Popolo was born between 1281 and 1284.
Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo was completed in the early 14th century, but the building saw changes 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 rooms, there is the Sala dei Quattrocento, the hall that in 1596 was sold to the Faculty of Law, Theology and Logic, whose lessons were held, twice a day, until 1651.
From 1651, the palace hosted the 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 starting 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 merlongs on the top, of a convolute ghibellinian style.
The building terminates with a bizarre tower at one end, embellished by an imposing and evocative entrance staircase at the other end.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest bus station is Vicolo Corsica, about 200 meters away, on the bus route CC. If you would like to find the palace on foot, use the map below.