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Piazza di Campo dei Fiori (Book 2) (Map C2) (Day 7) (View D7) (Rione Parione) and (Rione Regola)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view
Giordano Bruno
The fountain
The enlargement of Campo dei Fiori
Albergo della Vacca

The Plate (No. 28)

Piazza di Campo dei Fiori

No churches, no palaces, no obelisks, but life (the horse-market) and death (the gallows) are the subject of this plate. Campo de' Fiori was paved with stone only in the XVth century and that explains why it is called Campo (field). The reference to the flowers is uncertain. The view is taken from the green dot in the map below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) The gallows; 2) The fountain; 3) Palazzo Pio. 3) is covered in another page. The small 1748 map shows also 4) Palazzo della Cancelleria Apostolica; 5) Albergo della Vacca. The dotted line in the small map delineates the border between Rione Regola (left lower quarter) and Rione Parione.

Small ViewSmall View


The Piazza today

The horse market has been replaced by a vegetable-market (previously in Piazza Navona) and the gallows by the mournful statue of Giordano Bruno, but Campo dei Fiori is busy as ever (also at night). The square is slightly longer than it was as the block of houses opposite Albergo della Vacca does not exist any longer.
Read William Dean Howells' account of his visit to Campo dei Fiori in 1908.

The Statue

The Statue

The philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive in 1600 as a heretic in Campo dei Fiori. The statue is a memorial also to other philosophers persecuted because of their views and it was erected in 1889.

The Fountain

The Fountain

The low fountain (called La Terrina -The Tureen and most likely covered to prevent horses from watering from its top) which was at the center of the square was moved in 1924 to Piazza della Chiesa Nuova and it was replaced by a similar one located at the end of the square. La Terrina has a motto which ends with the following advice "Fa del bene e lassa dire" (Engage in good works and do not mind what others say).

The Enlargement of Campo dei Fiori

Coat of arms of Alexander VI

In 1473, in order to facilitate the orderly flow of pilgrims between the two sides of the Tiber in the forthcoming 1475 Jubilee, Pope Sixtus V built on the ruins of an ancient bridge, Ponte Sisto. The bridge increased the importance and the real estate value of Campo dei Fiori and in 1483 the pope promoted the cleaning and redesign of the area. An inscription, now at the beginning of Via dei Balestrari (crossbow makers), celebrates the initiative.
A few years later Alexander VI enlarged Via del Pellegrino (Pilgrim's street also known as Via Florea) which linked Campo dei Fiori with Ponte S. Angelo. A coat of arms of the pope at the corner with Piazza della Cancelleria celebrates the enlargement. It was an early case of conflict of interest, because the pope's mistress, Vannozza Cattanei, lived in Via del Pellegrino.

Albergo dellaVacca

Albergo della Vacca

Vannozza Cattanei bore Alexander VI (when he was still a cardinal) four children. Two of them, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia became famous on their own: Cesare for his cunning and ruthless attempts to create a kingdom for himself (for Machiavelli he was the perfect example of Italian Principe); Lucrezia for her beauty and for her alleged use of poison in getting rid of her second husband.
In 1500 Vannozza Cattanei bought an inn near Campo de' Fiori (now it is at one of the corners of Campo de' Fiori) where she put a complex coat of arms where the top left and lower right quarters are the coat of arms of Alexander VI, the top right quarter is the coat of arms of Vannozza Cattanei and the lower left quarter is the coat of arms of her third husband. The cow (It. vacca) of the coat of arms gave the name to the inn. The building was in part modified in the XIXth century: the side on Via de' Cappellari (hat makers) has an elaborate XVIIIth century madonnella.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Campo di Fiore
La spaziosa piazza, che resta incontro al palazzo Pio dovrebbe dirsi Campo di Flora; secondo alcuni, per la donna amata da Pompeo, che Flora dicevasi; ma sembra più verisimile, secondo altri, che provenga un tal nome da' giuochi florari, che quivi furono istituiti da una certa donna chiamata Tarrazia, che aveva lasciato in eredità al Popolo Romano questo campo; perlochè i Gentili superstiziosi la finsero Dea de' fiori, e Flora la chiamarono. In oggi su questa piazza si fa continuo mercato di grani, biade, ed altre sorte di vettovaglie, ed in ogni lunedì e sabato una fiera di cavalli, muli, e somari, e si esercita in essa la giustizia contro i rei, che dal tribunale della sagra Inquisizione si consegnano alla Corte secolare.

Next plate in Book 2: Piazza di Pescheria
Next step in Day 7 itinerary: Palazzo della Cancelleria Apostolica
Next step in your tour of Rione Parione: Palazzo Pio
Next step in your tour of Rione Regola: Palazzo Falconieri

Go to or to Book 2 or to The Coats of Arms of the Popes or to My Home Page on Baroque Rome or to My Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller

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