Piazza Farnese is located slightly to the south of the much more famous Campo de’ Fiori in Rome. It is hard to find a bigger contrast than that between these adjacent squares though. Where Campo de’ Fiori, particularly during the daily market in the morning and the lively atmosphere caused by the restaurants and pubs at night, is rowdy and chaotic, Piazza Farnese is still and serene.
Piazza Farnese Rome
History and description
The square gets its name from Alexander Farnese (later Pope Paul III), who had constructed the Palazzo Farnese on land that belonged to him. When the original architect Antonio di Sangallo died, the construction of this building was continued by, in chronological order, Michelangelo, Vignola and Giacomo della Porta.
The then “streetmaster” of Rome, whose name was Latino Giovenale Manetti, subsequently ordered a couple of houses across from the Palazzo Farnese to be torn down. The idea was to build new palazzi, more in accordance with the architectural beauty of Palazzo Farnese.
Manetti also had Campo de’ Fiori, which at the time was still called Piazza del Duca, tiled and had a big granite basin placed in the middle of the square. The vessel was taken from Piazza Venezia, where it had earlier been moved (from the Terme di Caracalla).
When a second, identical vessel was placed in the square, they were both moved more towards the sides in order to put them in symmetrical positions. Rinaldi added the fountains and had the coat-of-arms of the Farnese family (the lily) attached to the vessels.
After the unification of Italy Palazzo Farnese became property of the Italian state. The French Embassy, which is housed there, is paying a highly symbolic rent for the building and will continue to do so until the year 2035.