Piazzas in Italy: Piazza del Popolo, Ascoli Piceno

2 minutes to read

If you thought that this would be a list of pizza places, then read again. It's not all about pizzas. This time it’s about piazzas. A piazza is a public place nowadays defined as a square, while back in the time all you needed to form a piazza was two streets meeting and one announcing the place as a piazza. Later on, these spaces have been defined as an open, usually paved area, mostly used for public gatherings and celebrations, while it was considered to be the meeting point and most importantly, the heart of one city. One city can have several squares, while there is always a main one, and we can salute the Italians for the aesthetics on theirs.

To this day, the central planning is responsible for the look of a square- the density of the buildings that surround the square is precisely defined, and since a huge attempt to represent it without flaws is being made, the rules are very strict.

To my attempt to convince that a piazza is maybe more important than pizza in Italy, I will support my case by describing a beautiful example of Italian piazzas.

Piazza del Popolo "Square of the People", Ascoli Piceno

This square became a real example of renaissance beauty with its renovation in 1507 by Lombard craftsmen, following the design by Bernardino di Pietro da Carona and ordered and supported by the governor Raniero de 'Ranieri. A colonnade of travertine with brick vaults was built to cover the irregular medieval shops that faced the square. The challenge for the owners of the stores was to unify the appearance by following precise rules and by using the same materials; brick and travertine, in order to adapt it to a certain height and of course to follow the type of the windows used. Recent studies show that in the Roman times there was already a large open and public place, which is nowadays often hosting open-air markets. This is probably the meaning of the phrase: "born to be a square" (if it has ever been told).

The story of the square's today's look starts with the church that is placed here, The Basilica di San Francesco. This is a Gothic-style church with a Latin cross layout. This church is positioned in such way that makes the main facade facing into a narrow alley. In the decoration of the church, a lamb can be seen along with sculptures of a lion (Roman tradition). The lamb is a symbol of the guild of wool merchants, who at that time supported the construction.

The church's construction started in the mid 13th century, while its final look was completed in the 17th century! It took 400 years to obtain today's look. Beauty takes time, I guess! Like the cliche, ‘’Rome wasn’t built in a day and the Sagrada familia is still under construction after the industrial revolution’’.

The author

Zlata Golaboska

Zlata Golaboska

I am Zlata and I am an architect living in the Balkans. I am passionate about cities, how people influence architecture and vice versa, and how places change our lives.

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