The Piazza Venezia is the most central square in Rome. It is located at the bottom of the Capitol Hill and is flanked by some of Rome‘s most important buildings, like the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II and the Palazzo Venezia, which gave the square its name.
Piazza Venezia Rome
Public transport: Bus: H, 53, 60X, 80X, 81, 83, 85, 117, 160, 170, 175, 628, 916, N3, N4, N6, N8, N9, N12, N18, N19, N25. From Termini: Take bus H or bus 64 and get off at Piazza Venezia. The central location of Piazza Venezia makes it an important bus hub. From here, buses (including many night buses) leave for almost every destination within the city. District: Trevi.
Although the Vittorio Emanuele Monument is the most striking building on the square, Piazza Venezia is named after the Palazzo Venezia. It is located on the west side of the square and used to be the seat of the Venice Embassy in Rome.
The Palazzo Venezia is called thus because the Embassy of the former Republic of Venice used to have its seat here. Many people will have seen the Palazzo Venezia in documentaries about Benito Mussolini, since it is from the balcony of this building Italy’s former fascist dictator used to address the crowds. Nowadays it house the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia.
The original name of the square was Piazza di San Marco. Later this became Piazza della Conca di San Marco, after a fountain that stood in front of the basilica at the time, but can now be found in the Piazza Farnese.
In the 15th century, after Pope Paul II had had the Palazzo Venezia built, the square became one of the most important places in the city.
The square used to be a lot smaller. When the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali was built, a number of historic buildings were razed to the ground. To give an idea of how much space was gained, the buildings that were destroyed used to have their facades in line with the present Via del Corso.
The Palazzetto Venezia was demolished and rebuilt from scratch, but in a different place. The street Via della Ripresa dei Barberi (called thus because this is where the annual horse race on Via del Corso, the Corso dei Barberi, ended), no longer exists at all.
The enormous white Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II on the south side of the square is often described as a fascist monument. In reality, it was built between 1885 and 1911, i.e. even before the fascist era. The Vittoriano is also called, disrespectfully but also understandably, “typewriter” or “wedding cake”.
Directly across the square from the Monument for Vittorio Emanuele II is the beginning of the Via del Corso, the main shopping street of the Eternal City.
The building to the left of the Via del Corso is the Palazzo Bonaparte, which towards the end of 2019 was transformed into an exhibition space. Napoleon’s mother, who was almost blind, used to sit on its balcony and have her companion describe what was going on the square.
The Palazzo Venezia is currently the seat of the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia. It is from the balcony of this building that the dictator Mussolini made his speeches. In those days pedestrians were not allowed to stand still in front of the building. Even before, it was the embassy of the Republic of Venice.
The building facing the Palazzo Venezia from across the square is the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali. This was only built in the 20th century, with the intention of giving Piazza Venezia a more balanced and symmetrical appearance.
The San Marco Basilica was built in the 4th century. The current church is the result of a renovation under Pope Paul.
At Christmas 1880, the first horse-drawn tram line connecting Piazza Venezia to Termini station was inaugurated.
In 2009, during excavations for Rome’s third metro line, remains of Emperor Hadrian’s Athenaeum were found in the central part of Piazza Venezia.
From the beginning of December to the beginning of January, Rome’s tallest Christmas tree stands in the middle of Piazza Venezia. A few years ago it got the nickname Spelacchio (“the Bald One”), because it lost most of its needles long before Christmas. There is a new tree every year, and the problem has not repeated itself, but still the nickname has stuck.