Piazza del Campo

Downtown Sienna
Siena, Italy

Submitted by: Ethan Kent

An open plaza located at the physical and cultural heart of the city. Its red-brick fan shaped paths radiate out from the facade of the Palazzo Pubblico.

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Why It Works

The square works well because of its edge uses, but also because of the increasing public and informal activity as one moves toward the center, which offers a spectrum of comfort to all and draws people further into the space to linger.

The curved side of the square provides a very strong active edge with very small breaks for narrow streets that spill into the Piazza. Together, the active edge and the slope of the plaza towards the city hall, provide orientation navigationally, but also offer a comfortable orientation to social gathering and interaction.

The promenade around the edge interacts with the cafes and with the large bollards in the inner ring that tend to facilitate gathering and sociability. This channeling between public and private activity allows for promenading as an activity where promenaders and stationary onlookers enjoy participating in each otherís experience.

From the entering streets, edge retail, cafes and bollards, people are drawn further in the center of the square. Younger people and more informal play activities tend to take place further into the square while the more formal activity enjoys the shade and protection of the edges.

History & Background

Sienna is notable for its extremely well preserved urban center as many of the buildings have not changed since medieval times. The Piazza Del Campo, once the site of a Roman forum, early on became the city's central market place. It become the center for civic life with the construction of teh Town Hall in the 12th century (now the Civic Museum). Its spoke-like paving pattern was commissioned in 1349 by Siena's then ruling body, the Council of Nine, to symbolize their power and the nine folds of the Madonna's cloak.

Since the Piazza's completion, it has remained the site of most of the city's public events, including bullfights, executions, festivals, and the famous Palio, a breakneck, bareback 90-second horserace that occurs twice a year.

Contact Info:

Piazza del Campo information : 56(0577-28 05 51)

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