Apart from being important historical and architectural landmarks, the most iconic squares in Italy are also favorite hangout places for locals and tourists. Everywhere in the country, in fact, Italian piazzas are the symbol of community, traditions, and sharing of time and interests.
How many times have you seen residents meeting up in local piazzas in Italy, chatting, and exchanging their opinions on world matters? Whether you are sightseeing or hoping to blend in with locals, make your way to a town square in any of the Italian regions you are visiting and enjoy the vibe.
Discover the most famous squares in Italy and plan the trip of a lifetime!
Piazza Navona, Rome
This is hands-down one of the most famous piazzas in Rome. Oval-shaped and built right on top of the 1st-century Stadium of Domitian, Piazza Navona attracts thousands of tourists daily for the many masterpieces is home to, including the stunning Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the Baroque Sant’Agnese in Agone church by Francesco Borromini.
Of course, these are not the only landmarks you can see in Piazza Navona. On the two edges, in fact, there are two other beautiful fountains, Fontana del Nettuno on the northern side (by Giacomo della Porta) and Fontana del Moro on the southern side (by Giacomo della Porta and Bernini). Facing Fontana del Moro is the notable palace formerly belonging to the Doria Pamphilj noble family and now the seat of the Brazilian Embassy.
Placed in the heart of Rome’s Centro Storico, from Piazza Navona you can reach many other important sights such as the Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo with an easy stroll, along with getting lost in the maze of wonderful cobbled alleys.
Piazza di Spagna and Spanish Steps, Rome
There are a few things that make Rome’s Piazza di Spagna one of the most famous Italian piazzas. The most striking one is certainly the monumental staircase known as the Spanish Steps or, in Italian, “scalinata di Trinità dei Monti”, counting 136 steps.
The other landmarks that attract visitors to Piazza di Spagna include the famous Roman fountain La Barcaccia by Pietro Bernini, father of Gian Lorenzo, and Via dei Condotti, the scenic street known to many as the most exclusive shopping hub in Rome.
Built in the 18th century in travertine marble and made up of 11 ramps, it gives the optical effect of continuous winding easing down the hill. Historical and gorgeous, Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps have been the set for countless fashion shows and movies from Roman Holiday to The Talented Mr. Ripley to Eat, Pray, Love.
Piazza del Popolo, Rome
The glamorous entrance to Rome’s Tridente roads and city center, Piazza del Popolo is also one of the most stunning squares in Italy. Dominated by the tall Egyptian obelisk placed in the center and on top of the Fountain of the Lions, this Roman square is steeped in history and packed with landmarks to visit.
Starting right from its monumental entrance gate, the internal side of which is the work of Bernini, carrying on to Santa Maria del Popolo Basilica enriched with important artwork and side chapels, and the beautiful twin churches at the beginning of Via del Corso street.
Don’t leave Piazza del Popolo without exploring all the monumental fountains that decorate the square, including the ones located on both sides, Fountain of the Goddess Roma and Fountain of Neptune.
St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
One of the world-famous Italian piazzas is technically not even in Italy but in Vatican City, the world’s smallest nation. Impossible to miss when planning a visit to the Vatican or even if you stay in Rome for only two days, Piazza San Pietro is stunning from every corner and whichever angle you stand from.
One of the masterpieces of Gian Lorenzo Bernini in Rome, St. Peter’s Square is framed by the glorious white marble colonnade topped by a rich sequence of marble statues and decorated with the two tall statues of Saint Paul and Saint Peter as well as an Egyptian obelisk and two (almost) identical fountains.
Dominating the piazza is the huge Basilica of Saint Peter standing tall and topped with the beautiful dome by Michelangelo.
Piazza San Marco, Venice
Arguably one of the most famous squares in Italy, Piazza San Marco is the first sight you are going to head to as soon as you arrive in Venice. This iconic public square is a testament to the city’s rich heritage and architectural splendor. Stepping into this gorgeous square is like entering a time capsule, where history, culture, and beauty converge.
The focal point of Piazza San Marco is the awe-inspiring St. Mark’s Basilica. This architectural masterpiece, adorned with breathtaking mosaics and domes, shows Byzantine and Renaissance influences. The basilica’s intricate details and golden hues are a sight to behold, leaving visitors from all over the world in awe of its grandeur.
Adjacent to the basilica, the majestic Campanile, a towering bell tower, is Venice’s tallest building and offers panoramic views of the city. Gazing out from its heights, one can appreciate the unique beauty of Venice, with its labyrinthine canals, imposing bridges, and picturesque rooftops.
Another gem of Piazza San Marco is the Doge’s Palace, an exquisite example of Venetian Gothic architecture. This former seat of power is a window into the city’s political history, with its opulent interiors and intricate artworks. Walking through its corridors and chambers, one can almost feel the echoes of Venetian nobility that once swanned around these halls.
Beyond the architectural feats, Piazza San Marco exudes a vibrant atmosphere thanks to its bustling cafes, where visitors can sip on a rich (and expensive!) Italian espresso. Elegant arcades surround the square offering a tempting array of Venetian craftsmanship.
As you wander through Piazza San Marco, you’ll sense the echoes of the past, the grandeur of the present, and the timeless beauty that has captivated travelers for centuries.
Piazza Duomo, Florence
Firenze’s Piazza Duomo is not one of the largest squares in Italy but certainly one of the most photographed and visually appealing. What makes this one of the most stunning and famous Italian piazzas is the cluster of monuments among the most important in the city.
Starting from Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and its striking facade, the landmarks to visit in this piazza include the majestic 15th-century dome of the cathedral by Filippo Brunelleschi, the imposing bell tower by Giotto, and the beautifully carved baptistery of Saint John.
All around Piazza Duomo in Florence, you can enjoy bars, cafes, shops, and boutiques selling all sorts of goods, elegant clothes, and exclusive jewelry.
Piazza della Signoria, Florence
Dominated by the imposing facade of Palazzo della Signoria, Piazza della Signoria in Florence is right next to the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most visited museums in Italy. One of the main highlights of Florence, Piazza della Signoria has been the pulsing heart of the city’s political life since the 14th century.
The square has been the theater of pivotal historical events including the return of the Medici in 1530. It’s here that in 1497 the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola burned thousands of objects he considered “sinful” such as books and paintings, and it’s also here that only a year later, the same Savonarola was accused of heresy and burned at the stake.
Imposing sculptures, including a replica of Michelangelo’s David, and notable palaces dominate the view of this beautiful square that is the glamorous antechamber of the city’s main art gallery.
Piazza Duomo, Milan
One of the most famous squares in Italy, this is where is located also one of Italy’s most famous and photographed churches, Milan’s Duomo. The heart of the city and one of the places to visit in Milan, the square is packed with things to see and do.
From the stunning Gothic-style cathedral to the exclusive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza Duomo is the hub that you will definitely visit even if you are spending only one day in Milan. Between cool shopping opportunities, nice restaurants, trendy aperitifs, and historical landmarks, Milan’s Piazza Duomo is a must.
Piazza Castello, Turin
Piazza Castello has been one of the most important squares in Italy even before the Italian unification because it’s where the Savoy royal family used to live.
One of the central landmarks of Turin, the square was designed by architect Ascanio to serve as a porticoed square in front of the former Palazzo Ducale at the end of the 16th century. The current layout is the result of the restorations by Benedetto Alfieri in the second half of the 18th century.
Measuring some 40.000 square meters, Piazza Castello has been the pulsing heart of the city since its construction. Three of its four sides are framed by elegant porticoes, while the remaining side hosts the famous Palazzo Madama. From Piazza Castello start the four main streets of Turin’s city center, Via Po, Via Pietro Micca, Via Roma, and Via Garibaldi.
Piazza Maggiore, Bologna
The vibrant heart of Bologna, Piazza Maggiore is a charming square that has evolved over centuries, acquiring significant landmarks along the way. This historical hub is adorned with important historical buildings such as the Basilica of San Petronio, the Palazzo dei Notai, the Palazzo d’Accursio, the Palazzo del Podestà, and the Palazzo dei Banchi, each contributing to its rich architectural tapestry.
Dating back to the 13th century, Piazza Maggiore’s origins lie in the municipality’s vision to create a square that would embody the significance of civic institutions and serve as a central hub for trade, commerce, and services. Over time, the square flourished, gaining prominence as the city’s bustling epicenter.
Formerly named after Italian king Vittorio Emanuele II, it was only in 1945 that the square and its immediate surroundings officially reclaimed the name Piazza Maggiore, which it proudly carries to this day.
Strolling through Piazza Maggiore, one can’t help but feel the weight of time and the significance it holds for the city. One of the main squares in Italy, it serves as a crossroad where history, culture, and everyday life converge, inviting visitors to soak in its architectural wonders.
Piazza delle Erbe, Verona
One of the highlights you will undoubtedly end up visiting even if you plan only a day trip to Verona, Piazza delle Erbe is a central hub that for centuries has hosted the local daily market.
The glamorous open-air parlor of the city, Piazza Erbe is also Verona’s oldest square, standing where was once the Roman forum when it was the pulsing heart of the local social, economic, and political life.
All sides of the square are framed by historical buildings and clusters of restaurants and cafes welcoming locals and tourists every day. Among the most important palaces, you won’t fail to notice the Case dei Mazzanti, beautifully decorated with well-preserved frescoes, the Lamberti Tower, and Baroque-style Palazzo Maffei.
Piazza del Plebiscito, Napoli
Located at the foot of Pizzofalcone Hill, Piazza del Plebiscito is the largest square in Naples. Partially enclosed by a vast semicircular colonnade, the view is dominated by the huge neoclassical dome of the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola facing the Royal Palace.
One of the largest and most famous squares in Italy, Piazza del Plebiscito has been the pulsing heart of Naples’ political life for centuries.
In the 19th century, Naples’ former king, Gioacchino Murat, contributed to the urban development of the square by demolishing the buildings that in some way were preventing its expansion and had the imposing colonnade built to create the shape of an amphitheater. Still today, what gives Piazza del Plebiscito a sophisticated and elegant look is its colonnade.
Ferdinand IV of Bourbon built the large Basilica devoted to Saint Francesco di Paola, embedding it in the same colonnade. Sober and elegant, we can immediately spot the typical blue tones of the nearby sea between the equestrian statues of Charles III and Ferdinand I.
The opposite side is where the Royal Palace stands and features a rectangular shape. The huge square is entirely pedestrian just like it was meant to be at its foundation, home to public events. Naples is rich in landmarks to visit and restaurants dishing out pizza and other delicacies, but if you take a moment to sit in Piazza del Plebiscito and look around, taking in the history and architectural wonders, you won’t regret it.
Piazza del Campo, Siena
Apart from its huge size, the alluring shape, and the palaces surrounding it, what makes Piazza del Campo one of the most iconic Italian piazzas in the world is the Palio di Siena horse race held every year.
One of the first places you will visit in Siena and the true symbol of the medieval city, it was built where the three ancient hill towns gradually merged and finally united to form the city of Siena.
The shell-shaped square measures 333 meters in circumference and features a distinctive pavement made with red bricks and 10 rows of white travertine creating 9 sections that seem to point towards Palazzo Pubblico, the seat of the civic government.
All around Piazza del Campo are restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a drink or a light meal while taking in the fantastic view. From here, you can reach the rest of the highlights of the medieval town with an easy and pleasant stroll.
Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa
What makes this one of the most photographed and iconic squares in Italy is the famous Leaning Tower, one of Pisa’s top highlights. Known as Piazza dei Miracoli or Campo dei Miracoli, the official name of this square is actually Piazza Duomo because it hosts the city’s cathedral along with the other sights.
It’s in Piazza dei Miracoli, in fact, that you can find the main attractions of Pisa, making it the first place all visitors to the city head to as soon as they get off the train or they arrive with a private tour. Apart from the Leaning Tower and the cathedral, here you can visit the beautiful Baptistery and Campo Santo monumental cemetery.
Piazza Pretoria, Palermo
Piazza Pretoria is one of the most famous squares of Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Even though the official name was given after the main palace, the square is also known as “Piazza della Vergogna”, the square of shame, due to the presence of the naked statues that decorate the stunning 16th-century fountain dominating the center of the square.
Fontana Pretoria is the work of Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani and was built for a villa in Florence but the Senate of Palermo bought it and was dismantled and moved to Sicily. The four basins represent the four rivers of the ancient city, Oreto, Papireto, Gabriele, and Maredolce, while the statues represent mythological divinities, monsters, animals, sirens, dolphins, and harpies.
This beautiful Italian piazza is located on the edge of the Kalsa district a few meters away from the heart of the historic town of Palermo and is surrounded by notable buildings such as Palazzo Pretorio, Palazzo Bordonaro, Palazzo Bonocore, and the Church of Santa Caterina.
Piazza De Ferrari, Genoa
Surrounded by majestic buildings, visiting Piazza De Ferrari is one of the things to do in Genoa and likely a place you will go past many times during your stay.
The main square in Genoa and a true epicenter of city life, Piazza De Ferrari is a favorite meeting place where you can see important palaces such as Teatro Carlo Felice, the palace of the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, Palazzo Ducale, and 20th-century Palazzo della Regione Liguria and Palazzo della Nuova Borsa in Liberty style.