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Piazza Maggiore

Bologna's Busy Vortex

Piazza Maggiore

The centre stage of public life, where all Bologna seems to come in the evening, is Piazza Maggiore and its antechamber, Piazza Nettuno. Italy is famous for its central piazzas, usually combining a cathedral with the seat of civic government in a beautiful architectural ensemble. Almost every city north of Rome has a brilliant example—but not poor old Bologna. This is the homeliest square in Italy; it's like a cultured old woman in galoshes and a tatty brown coat from the charity shop, with hair that hasn't been brushed for centuries. But the Bolognese don't care. She's friendly and familiar and they love her to pieces.

Piazza Maggiore grew into its present shape in fits and starts, replacing narrow streets and tiny piazze that made up the medieval city's marketplace. The centrepiece is the old centre of power, the peculiar two-headed complex that consists of the Palazzo del Podestà, facing the Piazza, and the Palazzo Re Enzo, facing the main street, Via Francesco Rizzoli.

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Bologna Streets and Squares

Top Sights

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Gaspa, Paolo Carboni, GNU Creative Commons License