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The tour of the squares

The route starts from Piazza della Vittoria and leads to Piazza del Monte, the belly button of the city, at the very heart of the via Emilia road which crosses the city centre. The tour goes then through Piazza Prampolini and Piazza San Prospero and ends in the characteristic Piazza Fontanesi.

Itinerary: historical centre
Time: 10 minuts
Diffcoulty: easy
Lenght: 1 km


Piazza della Vittoria and Piazza Martiri del 7 Luglio

The tour starts from Piazza della Vittoria, the bigger square in town recently redesigned. Together with Piazza Martiri del 7 Luglio, it forms a unique wide space of meeting in the heart of the town centre. Several important buildings, monuments and Museums of Reggio Emilia face on 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 the WWI. 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 on Tuesday and Friday mornings.






Piazza del Monte

The square is known as the “piazza del Monte”, taking the 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 fifteenth 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 hour and the three Wise Men; now at the Public Museums), a work of Giampaolo Raineri (the artist who, later with his son Gian Carlo, built the famous clock dei Mori for piazza San Marco square 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 you can see 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 you can find the old Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo (Hall of the People’s Captain) that dates back to 1280. The appearance of the building today is the result of “interpretive” restoration done in the Twenties, on the basis of traces of the primitive thirteenth-century elevation, which was completely covered by numerous restoration works over the centuries. To the side you can find the Albergo Posta hotel, which used to be a tavern with same name and in 1913 housed the Ospizio del Cappello Rosso (The Red Hat Home) whose origins date back to as early as the sixteenth century. The appearance of the building today, in Neo-Renaissance style, dates back to the 1920’s. The building was built by engineer Guido Tirelli.


Piazza Prampolini

Piazza Prampolini is the main city square and is often called “piazza grande” (the big square). From left to right you can find, the Baptistery, the Bishop’s Palace (the facade facing the square was commissioned by bishop Bonfrancesco Arlotti in 1481), the Cathedral, the Canons’ Hall (built by Antonio Casotti, 1446) the Town Hall (the building of which started in 1414 and finished 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 (which dates back to the fifteenth century, between Via Palazzolo and Casa Malaguzzi), the palazzo delle Notarie (the offices of the Board of Notaries who had their desks under the arcade until the middle of the fifteenth century, which was restored in the eighteenth century) and the main facade 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 could be found in 1754.




Piazza San Prospero

Now we will take you along an interesting route under the arcades (of the Municipal Hall), which connects “Piazza grande” (the Big Square) with another beautiful city square, Piazza San Prospero square, also known as “Piasa cica”, in other words “Piazza Piccola” (the 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 taste) dates back to the end of the eighteenth century, the period in which (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 you will be greeted by the evocative sight of the Basilica of Saint Prospero, dedicated to the patron saint of the city, characterised by the impressive octagonal bell tower whose design was done by Alberto, Roberto and Bernardino Pacchioni and approved by Giulio Romano in 1538.





Piazza Fontanesi

After walking through the narrow and charming Via Prevostura, once past Via Toschi, you reach Via San Carlo: on the right, under the arcade, hidden between the other buildings, you can find the oratory of Saint Charles and Saint Agatha which has recently been restored. The oratory was also radically rebuilt in the late seventeenth century. Continuing along the road, on the left you come to n. 10, the Cloth Merchants’ Hall that dates back to the end of the fifteenth century (completed in 1541) and headquarters of the guild until the eighteenth century. It is characterized by the impressive arcade with four arches, of which one is blind, supported by terracotta columns and the capital of the corner pillar, with festoons and ram heads. The hall faced the main branch of the Secchia canal, from which it took the water required for washing wool. The route through the squares ends in Piazza Fontanesi square, a wide square with many trees, surrounded by numerous antiques shops. In olden times, the Guazzatoio canal made it possible to work silk, tan leather and manufacture tallow candles. The road with the same name, Via del Guazzatoio, leads to the “bastion” (the last part of the city’s thirteenth century walls still standing) today a part of casa Lasagni. The project for renovating the square in the 1980’s was aimed at emphasising, by identifying different stallage areas, the historical heritage of the square (such as the Convent and Church of Saint Maria Maddalena which once stood there).