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Recently I traveled to some of the most beautiful cities of Italy. In this blog, I would like to share my experience of the famous Italian Piazzas or Public Squares and its importance for the residents and tourists. I will be mentioning Piazzas of Milan, Florence, and Venice in this blog which I visited during the trip.

What are “Public Squares” or ‘Piazzas’?

Public Squares or Piazzas usually are the open spaces surrounded by the important public buildings in the town center which are used for public gathering, festive celebrations, markets etc. Here, In these historical cities which hold grandeur of renaissance architecture has still preserved the original functions of Piazzas. There are some principles which we can see as common characteristics in all these squares are mentioned as below.

Identity:
Fig. 1: Painting of Piazza Della Signoria in 18th century by Giuseppe Zocchi

They all have a strong unique identity which makes them different from other squares. These squares actually represent the image, culture, history and character of that town or area. Most of the Piazzas have sculptures or monuments standing on the sides of the squares or a bit away from the center spaces. E.g. “Piazza Della Signoria” (Fig. 2) which I visited in Florence which is surrounded by important art-related building like Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, and Logia Della Signoria. This particular square contains the number of sculptures by famous artists and nowadays works as an open-air art gallery for tourists.

Attractions:

Fig. 2: “Piazza Del Duomo”, Milan (2017)

Most of the squares are located in front of the most important buildings in the city which can be civic buildings or religiously important buildings. Because of these squares that individual building becomes more important than others. E.g. “Piazza Del Duomo” in Milan (Fig. 1). This square is exactly in the center of the city and enhances the importance of on of the largest cathedrals in the world ” Duomo Di Milano”. This building has high religious & architecture importance in the country.

Amenities & Flexibility:

Fig. 3: Artist making Painting on the floor of “Piazza Della Repubblica”, Florence
Fig. 4: ‘Machera’ Carnival public function at “Piazza San Marco”, Venice

 

Squares need to be flexible to hold different events and activities as season changes. In above images these Piazzas acts different role during different seasons and even during different time of the day. Some times they become large canvas for artists to display their creativity in public or sometimes they become event venue for the festival. Apart from this they also have amenities all around on the periphery like cafes, restaurants, markets, retail blocks etc.

Conclusion:

To make a successful square which can be used any time of the year by any age group or community of the people, some of these principles needs to be fulfilled. Even connection and how square has been created by surrounding buildings as an envelope is important.


References:

Spaces, Project. “10 Principles For Successful Squares – Project For Public Spaces”. Project for Public Spaces. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 May 2017.

Fig.1 : “Palazzo Vecchio And Piazza Signoria – Florence”. Museumsinflorence.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 May 2017.

Fig. 2: Rami, Kuntal. “Piazza Del Duomo”, Milan (2017)

Fig. 3: Rami, Kuntal. Artist making Painting on the floor of “Piazza Della Repubblica”, Florence (2017)

Fig. 4: Rami, Kuntal. ‘Machera’ Carnival public function at “Piazza San Marco”, Venice

 

One response to “Famous Public Squares of Italy & It’s Importance in Urban Fabric”

  1. Kuntal Rami has highlighted the importance of the public pizzas of Italy in creating a distinct identity of a city. Venice possesses a unique urban environment alluring tourists all round year but it is also one of the cities exhibiting major contemporary tourism issues including environmental degradation, heritage management issues and conservation problems. Mass tourism in this city has had major impacts on the local host community (Staiff R.)
    Venice is one of the ideals of place-making and keeps the tourism industry booming over the years. Public spaces have a significant role in this city of canals with the front doors of the houses opening directly onto the pedestrian streets and squares. The progressive displacement of other income generating activities apart from tourism has disrupted the delicate balance between public and private spheres in Venice. Now, the outdoor seating areas have begun to encroach the private grounds represented by the town’s calli and campi. The Municipal government has traditionally leased out the public spaces around the significant squares to various businesses to such extents that the historical grocery stalls lined up at the foot of the Rialto bridge Campo Ss. Filippo e Giacomo near St. Mark’s, and Campo S.Giacometto, have been remarkably transformed by the constant presence of supposedly “temporary” kiosks and souvenir stalls ( Staiff R.).
    The public square of Campo S. Margherita where the traditional shops selling foods and wares to the local population have been gradually overthrown by restaurants, cafes and bars catering to the needs of resident students and young tourist populations. The increasing pressure for additional outdoor seating for pubs, restaurants and cafés, opposed by an equally swelling reaction from the local citizens against such invasions, has made the issue of tourism in this city a major topic of discussion. The city has therefore begun the process of rethinking its public space policies and the leasing of public space to private tourism related businesses.

    Reference:
    Russell Staiff, tourism Geography Contemporary tourism issues Venice: A case study, Richmond.

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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