The Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most beautiful squares in Orvieto. It is located at the end of the main street Corso Cavour. The main buildings in the square are the Palazzo Comunale and the Sant’Andrea Church, where three different popes were crowned. Before the square was given its present name, it was called Piazza Maggiore.
Piazza della Repubblica Orvieto
Since its construction, Piazza della Repubblica has always been the civic centre of Orvieto. However, before the Duomo was built, it was also the centre of religious life, as the Sant’Andrea Church used to be the city’s main church.
In Roman times, this was probably also the site of the Roman Forum. Even earlier, in the Villanovan period, an Etruscan temple took up the space of the present church. In the 6th century an early Christian basilica was built on the same spot.
When Popes visited Orvieto in the Middle Ages, they entered the city through the Porta Maggiore and the Via della Cava. By the 12th century, all of the city’s important buildings stood on or near the square.
In the 13th century both the church and the Palazzo Comunale were restored. A red marble fountain was also built in the middle of the square. It was intended as a show fountain for the new aqueduct.
In the 14th century, the square lost its prominence. The construction of the cathedral and of Palazzo Papali moved the centre of the city to Piazza del Duomo. This was reinforced by the fact that the civil rulers lost much of their power after Orvieto was incorporated into the Papal State.
This situation lasted until the 16th century, when the square regained its importance.
The arch beneath the Palazzo Comunale that leads to Via Garibaldi was built in 1857 by the neo-classical architect Virginio Vespignani. This was done on the occasion of a visit by Pope Pius IX, who did not enter the city through the Porta Maggiore, as he used to do, but through the Porta Romana.
Nowadays, it can again be seen as the central square of the city. It is also the terminus of the buses that run from the funiculare to the centre of Orvieto.
What to see
The Palazzo Comunale is the most prominent building in the square. This palace has undergone several restorations over the centuries and is actually still not completely finished. The architect who made the greatest contribution was Ippolito Scalzo. The arch under the Palazzo was added in the 19th century by Virginio Vespignani.
The Sant’Andrea Church is located where the Corso Cavour meets the Piazza della Repubblica. The official name of the church is Chiesa dei Santi Andrea e Bartolomeo. The oldest version of this church dates back to the 6th century and, until the Duomo was built, it was the city’s most important church.
Palazzo Ottaviani and Palazzo Ravizza
Across the square you can see the Palazzo Ottaviani, the current headquarters of the bank Cassa di Risparmio di Orvieto. Garibaldi once addressed the crowd here, as a commemorative plaque on the wall of the building confirms. The Palazzo Ravizza next door was restored in the 19th century by a student of Vespignani, Giacomo Paniconi.