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What to see in Italy: The square I Maggio, the Agora of the City of Palmi

2021-02-27 08:19

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What to see in Italy: The square I Maggio, the Agora of the City of Palmi

The square I Maggio is Palmi's main square, its geometric and commercial centre for over three centuries.

Piazza I Maggio is Palmi's main square, its geometric and commercial centre for over three centuries. It is the vital centre of the city, a meeting point for citizens to celebrate important religious, political, sporting and cultural events. It is considered to be the city's 'parlor'.


In the 17th century there was a need to build a central square in Palmi, as a consequence of the development of the town market, which now attracted many people from nearby towns.

Therefore, in 1669, the Universitas cittadina, with the consent of the feudal lord Andrea Concublet, asked the Duke of Seminara Scipione II Spinelli to sell him a garden he owned, bordering the town of Palmi.

This garden extended to the foot of the hill called Spirito Santo and separated the district of San Nicola from the districts of Lo Salvatore and Li Canali.

Tradition has it that, although the sum offered was high, the duke did not want to sell his garden in any way. Therefore, with the approval of the Concublet, the citizens forcibly occupied the garden, cutting down the trees, rearranging the land and designing a square in the centre. The square was completed by the construction of a marble fountain in the centre of the square, known as the 'Fountain of the Market' or 'Fountain of the Palmi.

The square was given the name Piazza del Mercato because it was built for this purpose.

The plan for the reconstruction of the city following the 1783 earthquake, with the central square.

In addition, a granite mezzarola( was erected in the square to measure goods, as was customary in markets, but it was demolished in 1684 by the new feudal lord Carlo Filippo Antonio Spinelli, who opposed the economic development of the city.

The mezzarola was erected again in 1742 by his successor Scipione III Spinelli Savelli. meżżaròla is the unit of measurement of capacity for liquids, equal to 159 litres, in use in Genoa before the adoption of the metric system.

The square was one of the cornerstones of the town's reconstruction, designed by engineer Giovan Battista De Cosiron, following the 1783 earthquake.

 In fact, the town's urban layout was redesigned with a system of roads that revolved around it.

A project to improve Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and Via Garibaldi was approved by the municipal administration in 1886. This work also led to the demolition of the Fontana della Palma.

The large square became a gathering place for the city's population in the days following the 1894 earthquake, but especially after the 1908 earthquake, when the public space became an encampment as it was totally occupied by Red Cross and hospital tents.

During the umpteenth reconstruction of the city, which took place through the town planning scheme drawn up in 1911 by engineer Pucci, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele was once again the centre of gravity of the new Palmi.

Towards the end of the last century, the square was equipped with the current lighting system, while in 2015-2016 the entire surface was paved in stone.

photo below:

The town's reconstruction plan following the 1783 earthquake, showing the central square.




The quadrangular square is intersected by Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi and Corso Tenente Aldo Barbaro. In the reconstruction of the 18th century, the layout of the square and the two streets was designed according to the ancient Roman centuriation system, in which the main square of the city, the forum, was located at the intersection of the two main streets, the decumanus maximus (the main east-west axis of the city, like Corso Garibaldi) and the cardo maximus (the main north-south axis, like Corso Barbaro).

The pavement, along the axes of the two streets, is made of carved stone slabs while the remaining part is asphalt. It measures approximately 73 metres x 73 metres, with a total area of over 5,300 m².

The nineteen buildings facing the square are all two or three storeys above ground. The building housing the Monte dei Paschi di Siena branch (former headquarters of the Banca Popolare Cooperativa di Palmi) was built during the Fascist period and was designed by Marcello Piacentini.


Religious events

The square is also the main public place of Local religious life. All the centuries-old religious processions that take place in the town centre, before ending with the return to their respective places of worship, pass through and stop in the centre of the square. The processions are those dedicated to the Holy Crucifix, St Anthony of Padua, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St Roch, Our Lady of the Letter, the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Succour.

Particularly important, however, is the role that the square plays in the festivities of the Varia di Palmi, since 2013 included in the UNESCO list of oral and intangible heritage of humanity. The square is the place where the name of the girl who will play the role of the animella on the sacred float is proclaimed, where the historical procession begins, but above all, it is the place where the float itself is transported to its conclusion.

Musical events and shows

The square is also the main centre for musical events and shows in general, especially during the Palmese summer. Every year events such as the regional final of Miss Italy (in 1977 the national final of the competition was held here) or free concerts by artists such as Pooh in 1996 (as part of the national Telethon event), Roberto Vecchioni in 1993, etc. take place here. In recent years, the following concerts have been held:

Max Gazzè (16th August 2008);
Paola & Chiara (22nd August 2008);
Tiromancino (31 August 2008);
Gemelli Diversi (16 August 2009);
Cesare Cremonini (22 August 2009);
Francesco Renga (16 August 2010);
Marco Mengoni (22 August 2010);
Giuliano Palma (16 August 2011);
Edoardo Bennato (21 August 2011);
Ron (19 August 2012);
Paolo Belli (16 August 2013);
Nek (25 August 2013),
Alex Britti (31 August 2014).

One of the most successful musical events was Edoardo Bennato's first concert in Palmi, in 2005, when the square hosted about 40,000 people.

The audience record was broken in 2014 by Alex Britti's concert, with an attendance of over 50,000.

Piazza I Maggio also marks the end of the Ottava di Carnevale parade, an event that takes place every year through the main streets of the historic centre on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday.

Sporting events

On 25 May 1982, the 11th stage of the Giro d'Italia started here, with the final arrival in Camigliatello. The square was also the starting point of some editions of the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria.

Moreover, before the construction of the Giuseppe Lopresti stadium in the 1930s, the Unione Sportiva Palmese played some friendly and unofficial matches in specially constructed playing fields inside the square.

fonte :

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