The piazza or town square is a gathering place found in traditional towns.  All over the world, towns have squares; they are usually lined with cafes and shops and are the town’s centerpiece.  Important events are held there, as are markets and sometimes horse races.

If you plan on visiting Italy, here are six you probably don’t want to miss.

1. Campo de’ Fiori – Rome

A meadow during the Middle Ages, Campo de’ Fiori was  the site of many public executions.  One of the most famous was that of philosopher Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake on the exact spot where his statue now stands.

Campo de’ Fiori is the home of Rome’s oldest market.  On summer nights it’s a great place to people watch, have a drink and listen to some street musicians perform.

2. Piazza della Signoria – Florence

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You can easily spend a full day here.  Discover some amazing sculptures by Bandinelli, Michelangelo (a replica of David) and Giambologna.  Venture into the Palazzo Vecchio to view some of the biggest paintings you’ve ever seen.  Ready to take a break?  There are plenty of restaurants lining the square waiting to serve you a delicious meal.

3. Piazza San Marco – Venice

One of the most famous squares has to be Piazza San Marco aka Saint Mark’s Square in Venice.  Go back in time at Caffè Florian, open since 1720, you can get an espresso for €2 at the bar (expect to pay more if sitting or when there’s live music). With the Basilica of San Marco and the Doge’s Palace this is another square where you could spend the better part of a day.

4. Piazza del Campo – Siena

Best known for the Palio, a traditional horse race that takes place yearly, in July and August this shell shaped piazza is a favourite hang out for tourists and locals, and the perfect place to catch some rays in the summertime.  Although small compared to the square itself, you can’t miss the Fountain of Joy at the northwest edge.

5. Piazza Maggiore – Bologna

Surrounded by the Basilica of San Petronio and three palazzos (dei Notai, d’Accursio and del Podestà), this piazza is set in one of the prettiest cities of the Emilia-Romagna region. It has gone through several alterations to become what it is today and is the preferred meeting place of locals and stage for student protests.

6. Piazza Navona – Rome

Another great example of typical city square, Piazza Navona was first a competition arena.  Today it sits as a public space with three beautiful fountains including the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi.  A yearly Christmas market is held here.

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the author

Nathalie and Tim Harris love slow travel and learning about other cultures through their food and drink. Together they created A Cook Not Mad, food travels guided by a chef's stomach and a photographer's eye. You can also follow them on Facebook.

  • http://lynmidnight.blogspot.com Lyn Midnight

    I’ve been to two of those already!!! Navona is the most beautiful one in Rome, for sure, and campo dei fiori is fun at night. ;) Thanks for this article, it gives me ideas of places to go in 2013. I’ll definitely check them all out. Happy holidays!!! <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511042970 Mick Sonchin

    AHAHA I first read the title as Pizzas, but this is better! Thanks for sharing!