The Piazza Flavio Gioia is an octagonal square at the edge of the historical center of Salerno. Because of its round shape, it is generally referred to as “La Rotonda”. Its main attraction is the Fountain of the Dolphins.
Piazza Flavio Gioia Salerno
History and description
The Piazza Flavio Gioia and the adjacent Piazza Portanova used to be one big square. In 1754, they were separated by a huge gate called the Porta Nuova. It was placed here by Francesco Ragozzino. Ragozzino had also worked on the Cathedral and the Annunziata Church. The statue of St. Matthew topping the gate was the work of Francesco Pagano.
The Fountain of the Dolphins adorning the square symbolizes the link between Salerno and the sea. The sculptor was Riccardo Dalisi. The fountain was placed here in 1997.
Flavio Gioia was a 13th century mariner and inventor, who was born in nearby Positano. It is not sure that he invented the compass, but he is credited with perfecting it by adding the wind rose design with the fleur-de-lys sign indicating north and protecting it with a glass cover. He also gave his name to a lunar crater.
The Piazza Flavio Gioia and the Piazza Portanova are the background to most important cultural events in the city. This includes the Fiera di San Matteo, one of the biggest annual fairs in southern Italy.