A Piazza is the quintessential meeting place. It is interesting to reflect upon the role of the Piazza in Italian history; meeting place, site of political unrest, market place, home to festivals and sagre as well as musical and theatrical events, the piazza plays a central role in the communal life of all Italians today. It is a stage, a living theatre.
Piazza del Campo in Siena is my favorite meeting place. Watch as old be-suited gentlemen meet for a coffee, a smoke or to pick up the La Repubblica newspaper at 7 am. See the noisy teenagers gather after school at around 1.30 pm; at 5pm, another wave of older college students descend on ‘Il Campo’. They lie about in the setting sun or chat in huddled groups. Locals converge after dinner for passeggiata on the way home. In winter, they stroll in long fur edged coats and fine shoes, appearing to glide across the uneven bricks, reminding me of the wealthy citizens depicted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, famous painter of Sienese life in the 14th century.
The best time to visit Siena is out of season when Piazza del Campo becomes moody and mysterious under the winter sky. Avoid the summer months, especially during the Palio, as well as Easter, unless you fancy hordes of people.
See Ailsa’s Where’s My Backpack for other meeting places around the world.