Campo de’ Fiori

 



The Campo de' Fiori is a lively piazza which is home to a daily (except Sunday) flower and vegetable market.

The magnificent Renaissance Farnese Palace is just off the piazza.

 

 

 

Campo de' Fiori is a rectangular piazza near Piazza Navona in Rome, on the border of rione Parione and rione Regola. Campo dei Fiori, translated literally from Italian, means "field of flowers." The name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow.

In Ancient Rome the area was unused space between Pompey's Theatre and the flood-prone Tiber. Though the Orsini established themselves on the south flank of the space in the 13th century, until the 15th century the square remained undeveloped. The first church in the immediate vicinity was built during the pontificate of Boniface IX (1389-1404), Santa Brigida a Campo dei Fiori; with the building-up of the rione, the church has now come to face that part of the former Campo that is now Piazza Farnese. In 1456 under Pope Callixtus III, Ludovico Cardinal Trevisani paved the area: this was part of a greater project of improvement of the rione Parione. This renewal was both the result and cause of several important buildings being built in the surroundings; in particular, the Orsini palace on Campo dei Fiori was rebuilt. The Renaissance Palazzo della Cancelleria can be seen in Vasi's etching, rising majestically beyond the far right corner of the Campo.

Campo dei Fiori itself has never been architecturally formalized: the illustration above shows that the edge of the façade of the 17th-century Palazzo Pio offers no finished formal front in the direction of the Campo. Instead, the square has always remained a focus for commercial and street culture: the surrounding streets are named for trades—Via dei Balestrari (crossbow-makers), Via dei Baullari (coffer-makers), Via dei Cappellari (hat-makers), Via dei Chiavari (key-makers) and Via dei Giubbonari (tailors). With new access streets installed by Sixtus IV— Via Florea and Via Pellegrino— the square became a necessary corridor for important people passing between the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano and the Vatican, thus bringing wealth to the area: a flourishing horse market took place twice a week (Monday and Saturday) and a lot of inns, hotels and shops came to be situated in Campo dei Fiori.

Capital punishments used to be held publicly in Campo dei Fiori: in Vasi's etching the tall permanent gibbet stands in the horse and cattle market.

Here, on 17 February 1600, the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive by the Roman Inquisition because his ideas (such as heliocentrism) were deemed dangerous and all of his work was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy Office. In 1887 Ettore Ferrari dedicated a monument to him on the exact spot of his death: he stands defiantly facing the Vatican, reinterpreted in the first days of a reunited Italy as a martyr to freedom of speech.

The demolition of a block of housing in 1858 enlarged Campo dei Fiori, and since 1869 there has been a vegetable and fish market there every morning. The ancient fountain "la Terrina" (the "soupbowl") that once watered cattle, resited in 1889, now keeps flowers fresh. Its inscription: FA DEL BEN E LASSA DIRE ("Do well and let them talk") suits the gossipy nature of the marketplace. In the afternoons, local games of football give way to set-ups for outdoor cafés. At night, Campo dei Fiori is a popular meeting place for young people, both Italian and foreign.