Tour of the squares

The tour starts from Piazza della Vittoria and leads to Piazza del Monte core of the town, located in the middle of the Via Emilia road which crosses the town centre. The tour goes then through Piazza Prampolini and Piazza San Prospero, and ends in the characteristic Piazza Fontanesi.

Information

42121 Reggio Emilia
Route in the town centre

Route characteristics

Route length: 1 km
Travelling time: 10 minutes
Difficulty level: easy

Route description

Piazza della Vittoria

Piazza della Vittoria and Piazza Martiri del 7 luglio

The tour starts from Piazza della Vittoria, the bigger square recently redesigned. Together with Piazza Martiri del 7 luglio, it forms a unique wide space of meeting in the middle of the town centre. Several important buildings, monuments and Museums of Reggio Emilia face overlook it: the Valli Municipal Theatre and the Ariosto Theatre, the Museums Palace and the Parmeggiani Gallery, the Monument dedicated to the Resistance and the one dedicated to the victims of World War I. The Public Gardens, historic park of the town centre, coast the northern side of the area. Piazza Martiri del 7 luglio hosts the weekly market Tuesdays and Fridays in the morning.

 

Piazza del Monte

Piazza del Monte

The square is known as “Piazza del Monte”, taking its name from the most important building which overlooks the square, the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, the oldest parts of which date back to 1188 and which housed the old Town Hall up to the first decades of the XV century. The most characteristic part of the double-faced building (the opposite side overlooks Piazza del Duomo) is the tower, erected in 1216. In 1416 the tower was equipped with a mechanical clock and a wooden statue (the Virgin Mary, the angel with a clapper to sound the time and the three Wise Men; now in the Museums Palace), a work by Giampaolo Raineri (the artist who, later with his son Gian Carlo, built the famous clock dei Mori for Piazza San Marco in Venice). In 1544 the tower was decorated with frescoes by Lelio Orsi, which have since been lost in time. On the north side of the square is Palazzo Bussetti (1657), which, according to tradition was designed by Bernini (more probably the work was done by the ducal architect Bartolomeo Avanzini, from Rome). To the east is the old Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo (Hall of the People’s Captain), dating back to 1280. The appearance of the building is now the result of “interpretive” restoration done in the Twenties, on the basis of traces of the primitive XIII century elevation, which was completely covered by numerous restoration works over the centuries. To the east side is the Posta Hotel, that used to be a tavern with the same name, and in 1913 housed the Ospizio del Cappello Rosso (The Red Hat Home), whose origins date back to as early as the XVI century. The appearance of the building today, in Neo-Renaissance style, dates back to the 1920s. The building was built by engineer Guido Tirelli.

 

Piazza Prampolini

Piazza Prampolini

Piazza Prampolini is the main town square and is often called “Piazza Grande” (Big Square). From left to right you can find, the Baptistery, the Bishop’s Palace (the façade facing the square was commissioned by Bishop Bonfrancesco Arlotti in 1481), the Cathedral, the Canons’ Hall (built by Antonio Casotti, 1446) the Town Hall (whose building started in 1414 and ended before the end of the century, including the tower in Via Toschi, commonly called “Torre del Bordello” (the Brothel Tower), taking its name from the nearby building which was used as a brothel), the Palazzo del Podestà (dating back to the XV century, between Via Palazzolo and Casa Malaguzzi), the Palazzo delle Notarie (the offices of the Board of Notaries, who had their headquarters under the arcade until the middle of the XV century, which was restored in the XVIII century) and the main façade of the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà. To one side of the square you can find the statue of Crostolo, which came from the Ducal Villa of Rivalta, where it was already located in 1754.

 

Piazza San Prospero

Piazza San Prospero

Now we will take you along an interesting route under the arcades of the Municipal Hall, which connect “Piazza Grande” (Big Square) with another beautiful town square, Piazza San Prospero, also known as “Piasa cica”, in other words “Piazza Piccola” (Small Square). The arcade was built in 1488 when the passage under the loggia was opened to the public. The route (of an explicitly spectacular style) dates back to the end of the XVIII century, the time when (following the designs of Francesco Fontanesi) the entrance to the main square was decorated, in a vaguely oriental style. At the end of the Municipal Hall is the evocative sight of the Basilica of Saint Prospero, dedicated to the Patron Saint of the town, characterized by the impressive octagonal bell tower whose design was done by Alberto, Roberto and Bernardino Pacchioni, then approved by Giulio Romano in 1538.

 

Piazza Fontanesi

Piazza Fontanesi

After walking through the narrow and charming Via Prevostura, past Via Toschi, it is possible to reach Via San Carlo: on the right, under the arcade, hidden among the other buildings, is the oratory of San Carlo and Agata, recently restored. The oratory was also completely rebuilt in the late XVII century. Straight along the road, on the left is no. 10, the Cloth Merchants’ Hall, dating back to the late XIV century (completed in 1541) and headquarters of the guild until the XVIII century. It is characterized by the impressive four-arch arcade, of which one is blind, supported by earthenware columns and the capital of the corner pillar, with festoon and ram heads. The hall overlooked the main branch of the Secchia canal, from which it took the water required for washing the wool. The route through the squares ends in Piazza Fontanesi, a wide square with many trees, surrounded by numerous antiques shops. In ancient times the Guazzatoio canal made it possible to work silk, tan leather and manufacture tallow candles. The street with the same name, Via del Guazzatoio, leads to the “bastion” (unique remains of the town’s XIII-century walls still standing), now a part of Casa Lasagni. The project for renovating the square in the 1980s was aimed at emphasizing, by identifying different paving areas, the historical heritage of the square (such as the convent and the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, once located there).