The Piazza delle Erbe is the square to the south of the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua. Like the Piazza dei Frutti to the north of this building it has always been the market square of the city and background to various traditional festivals.
Piazza delle Erbe Padua
Address: Piazza delle Erbe – Padua. Phone: Not applicable. Market hours: Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Note: Due to the Covid crisis, opening hours may differ from what is indicated here).
History and description
The Piazza delle Erbe used to be known under the names Piazza della Biada (when it sold mainly animal food) and Piazza del Vino (“Wine Square”). It was initially the market where low quality goods were sold. The stalls under the portico of the Palazzo della Ragione sold floor mats and other household goods. Nowadays it mostly sells fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Just like the stairs on the sother side of the building, the ones leading down to the Piazza delle Erbe each had theri own name. One was called Scala dei ferri lavorati (stairs of the “worked iron”, probably meaning “tools”), while the other one was known as the “Scala del vino”. Only the first one is still accessible.
One traditional local festival was the Corsa del Palio, which started at the Volta Barozzo and ended at the Piazza delle Erbe. The winner was given a palio, or a precious silk cloth. Whoever arrived in second place got a goose, and the third arrival had to make do with a hamster.
From 1838 onward the lottery numbers were announced from the balcony of the Palazzo della Ragione. It is told that the nuns of the San Pietro Convent one day needed to come and pick up theri winnings with a cart.
The Piazza della Ragione is the main building on the square. It is nicknamed Salone.
The Palazzo del Podestà was built in the 16th century. A 20th century addition to this building displays a marble map showing the 912 spots where bombs fell during World War I.
The Palazzo delle Debite is named for the prison that stood in the same spot. The 16th century bridge between the earlier palace and the Palazzo della Ragione was destroyed in 1872. The architect of the present palace, which was built in 1873, was Camillo Boito.
The fountain dates back to 1930.