Ten of Italy’s Loveliest Piazzas
Ten of Italy’s Loveliest Piazzas
There is perhaps no better way to enjoy Italy than to spend an evening with friends in one of the country’s beautiful piazzas, people-watching, eating a gelato or sipping a glass of wine. In no particular order, here are our favorite squares across the country to add to your list when visiting Italy.
- Piazza Navona – Rome
This monumental space had been the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in 1st century AD and the piazza follows the form of the open space of the stadium. It is an outstanding example of Baroque Roman architecture and art. In the center stands the famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers – 1651) by Bernini, topped by the Obelisk of Domitian. At the southern end of the piazza is the Fontana del Moro with a basin and four Tritons sculpted by Giacomo della Porta (1575), to which Bernini added a statue a century later. At the northern end is the Fountain of Neptune (1574), also created by della Porta. The statue of Neptune by Antonio Della Bitta, was added in 1878 to create a sense of balance with La Fontana del Moro.
- Piazza dell’Anfiteatro – Lucca
In this piazza’s case, it is shaped like and oval, rather than a square. The reason for the unusual design is that the piazza follows the shape of the city’s old Roman amphitheater. It is walled off but reachable through one of four gated entrances.
- Piazza Sant’Oronzo – Lecce
This square has everything you could ever want from a piazza and much more. As well as cafes, restaurants and an art museum, it houses an ancient amphitheater – you can still see the rows of seating and it continues to be used for shows. It’s named after the town’s patron saint, also honored in a column monument on the square.
- Piazza del Campo – Siena
This is the main piazza in the historic center of Siena in Tuscany and is regarded as one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares. It is renowned worldwide for its beauty and architectural integrity. The Palazzo Pubblico and its Torre del Mangia, as well as various palazzi signorili, surround the shell-shaped piazza. The twice-a-year horse-race, Palio di Siena, is held around the edges of the piazza.
- Piazza Tasso – Sorrento
Named after the poet Torquato Tasso, the vibrant area is filled with shops and has an enthusiastic, rather than hurried atmosphere. It is perfect for relaxing after shopping and for people watching in the afternoon. Surrounding the piazza are palazzos and churches that make the setting all the more quintessentially Italian.
- Piazza Umberto I – Capri
Capri has been a favorite coastal getaway since the days of the Roman Empire and the main square, which is nicknamed La Piazzetta, or the little square, is a popular meeting spot. Lined with cafes, you’ll also see the famous clock tower and if you look carefully in the town hall’s courtyard, you’ll find a plaque in honor of British journalist Henry Wreford, who came to the island for a day, but was so enchanted by Capri that he stayed for fifty years.
- Piazzale Michelangelo – Florence
This must be one of Italy’s best locations to watch the sun set. Take the bus in time for dusk for the best panoramic views over this Renaissance city. There’s also a replica of Michelangelo’s David statue and plenty of spots for a picnic.
- Piazza Garibaldi – Menaggio, Lake Como
Menaggio is possibly the most beautiful village on Lake Como. The heart of the ‘old’ town is centered around Piazza Garibaldi close to Menaggio’s harbor. It features 19th century buildings in the Italian alpine style painted in muted tones.
- Piazza Pretoria – Palermo
Known for the statues that surround the central fountain, you will find nymphs and mermaids among the men and ladies portrayed. Take a relaxing stroll around, stop in one of the cafes or wander inside some of the municipal buildings to see the elaborate architecture.
- Piazzetta San Marco – Venice
Saint Mark’s Square itself is grand and beautiful, but nestled between the Doge’s Palace and Biblioteca Marciana lies this pretty little square. It has views out to the lagoon and enormous pillars topped with statues of the symbols of Venice: the lion and Saint Teodora of Amasea.