From top to bottom, our beautiful boot (as Italy is know because of its shape) is full of beautiful squares, often symbol of the city they are found in. Often famous because of their artistic splendor, these squares used to be -and sometimes still are- the heart of people’s everyday life and still bear witness to the history of the city. Here are some of the most impressive squares to visit in the South of Italy, divided per region.
Piazza del Plebiscito
Piazza del Plebiscito is without a doubt the most evocative of the city’s squares. The majestic cupola of the Basilica di San Francesco da Paola is often backdrop to concerts and cultural events, but the Basilica is not the only monument to be enjoyed while strolling around in the piazza: the Palazzo Reale, the Palazzo Salerno and the Palazzo della Prefettura are all beautiful examples of architectures peaking at visitors and passers by from the perimeter of the square itself. Piazza del Plebiscito is also particularly important because of its location, between the seafront and Naples’ most characteristic areas, a reason which makes it popular among strollers and tourists.
Needless to say, Piazza Dante was named after Dante Alighieri, father of the Italian language and Italian poet extraordinaire. To Neapolitans and tourists alike, Piazza Dante is home to beautiful churches of high historical relevance: Santa Maria di Caravaggio, San Domenico Soriano and San Michele a Port’Alba.
Piazza dei Martiri
Piazza dei Martiri is located in what is considered one of the most elegant areas of Naples. This square is the symbol of Neapolitan martyrs who fought for freedom. A coloumn and the statue of Emanuele Caggiano represent the virtues of the martyrs themselves.
Piazza del Gesù
This square is by many considered a true emblem of old Naples, also in name of the stunning churches on its perimeter, the church of the Gesù Nuovo and the Monastero di Santa Chiara, both beloved spiritual hubs for the people of the city. Symbol of the square is also the Obelisco dell’Immacolata, an obelisk dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception.
Piazza del Duomo
Situated at the heart of Lecce’s old town, the Piazza del Duomo is considered a urban masterpiece characterized by the Duomo and its belfry, the cathedral with its majestic bell tower -both built in Baroque style- and the Palazzo Vescovile.
Piazza del Ferrarese
This square was named after Stefano Fabri, a merchant coming from the town of Ferrara, who lived in Bari in the 17th century. The Piazza del Ferrarese represents a true access door to the old town of Bari, where tourists can enjoy the traditional atmosphere of Bari’s fish market, or visit the remains of the ancient Appia-Traiana road, built centuries ago by the Romans.
When talking about Palermo, Piazza Pretoria is most likely the first image coming to mind, at least to the majority of Italians. Also known as Piazza della Vergogna, the Square of Shame, it takes this particular name from the central, round plan fountain created by Francesco Camillani which lies at its centre. Camillani architectured the entire square following the precepts of Italian Baroque, of which Piazza Pretoria is one of the best achievements. Monuments such as the Palazzo Pretorio, the Chiesa di Santa Caterina, the Palazzo Bonocore and Palazzo Bordonaro help to increase the importance and majesty of the square.
Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo is a stunning example of understated beauty, rich in art and architecture. Its Duomo, from which the square takes its name, is not the only example: let’s also mention the Town Hall building and the Fountain of the Elephant, concurring, along with the Duomo, to create the square’s special beauty.
Piazza del Duomo
This square, still known with its old name of Piazza del Cinque d’oro, is today mostly known as Piazza del Duomo as the town’s main church, a cathedral, blesses its perimeter. The Basilica dei S.S Pietro e Paolo, the Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo Modò also enrich the square with their historical value and artistic beauty. In Acireale, the Piazza del Duomo has always been the town’s favorite meeting point, where locals enjoy each other’s company while sipping a nice coffee at one of the square’s many cafés.
Piazza del Duomo
Situated in the historical centre of Cefalù, the Piazza del Duomo, just like in Acireale, owes its name to the presence of the town’s cathedral. The square is a stunning mélange of Norman and Arab influences, particularly visible in the façades of the main buildings overlooking it, the Palazzo Vescovile, the Palazzo Piraino and the former Monastero di Santa Caterina, currently see of Cefalù’s town hall.
These are only some of the most beautiful squares to enjoy in the South of Italy. Each of them stands out for its style and history and is equally beautiful during the day or at night time. Remember, however, that beautiful squares are a typical feature of Italy: from the largest of cities, to the quaintest village, you’ll find one to romantically stroll through, while facing the majesty of history.
Edited by Francesca Bezzone, 23/02/2014