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I Love Piazza 

Carissimi amici,

What would Italy be without its piazzas? I had this discussion at the “Plaza of the Wind” event for Avenue C’s annual LUNGS Festival.

Piazzas are the central point of every Italian city, or neighborhood for larger metropolis. Often adorned with a fountain or statue in the center, they are more than an urban architectural feature such as a plaza or square in other countries: piazzas are an essential element to Italian culture.

The piazza is a comfortable, open-air meeting place, usually without vehicle traffic or parking, it’s a place where you can meet friends, sit and have lunch or a late night Peroni. Whether your most cherished memories are in Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples with its “hugging” gallery of columns, having an aperitivo inside the Baroque Piazza Navona of Rome, or listening to the church bells in a little village’s piazza somewhere in the countryside, there are special features that set the Italian piazza apart from a square or plaza:

  • Piazzas define the Italians sense of belonging in society: it connects their history, architecture, and social relations.

  • The piazza unites the most important city buildings: the cathedral and city hall, so religious and political symbols are always face to face.

  • It is where the main drag of the city begins/ends. Most of the popular shops, gelateria and restaurants are near, if not in the piazza.

  • It is the point of orientation for getting about the city. Any indication of locating something in the city is relative to the piazza.

When I lived in Rome, my favorite piazza was Piazza di San Lorenzo, the name of the historically socialist neighborhood where I lived during my undergrad years. Although it’s right behind the bustling Roma Termini train station, it’s hidden behind city walls and beneath the freeway and train tracks. It was where circles of people once conspired against Fascism and still carries that identity to this day, so you can image the true sense of community felt there.

I fell in love with Florence’s Piazza della Santissima Annunziata during my first month in Italy. It’s a large piazza near Piazza San Marco and location of the world’s first orphanage. I moved to Florence in my early 20s and at first, struggled with being a foreigner. This piazza “for orphans” gave me a sense of belonging and consoled my solitude and homesickness.

Do you like the idea of a piazza? What would yours look like? What would you want to happen there? How would a piazza help you and your community?

I’m happy to have “Piazza Immerse Italy” where we share our love for all things Italian - I’ll bring the wine!

Vi voglio tanto bene,


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