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Giordano Bruno was sent to the pyre in Campo de' Fiori in February 1600. It was not, unfortunately, the only execution to take place on the site but was certainly the most famous. A monument dedicated to the philosopher and designed by Ettore Ferrari was raised in the center of the square in 1887. The statue is made from bronze and stands on a stone base decorated with scenes from the life of Bruno as well as other figures from history described as heretics, including Erasmus, Tommaso Campanella, Paolo Sarpi, and Luther. Bruno is shown standing covered and hooded by a long cloak; the book in his hand is perhaps symbolic of his theories and ideas which were daring for the time and resulted in his terrible death.
A site for public prosecutions in the olden days, this food market is famous throughout the city and is worth a visit even if you have no intention to buy anything. In the mornings the entire place is filled with fresh flowers lugged by the vendors, making it a sight to behold As well as fresh fish and meat counters, huge amounts of seasonal fruits and vegetables, oriental, Indian and Italian spices and cereals in many different varieties are available here. If buying something then remember to bargain well.
The construction of this palace was financed by the gambling wins of Cardinal Raffaele Riario. The wonderful residence in early Renaissance style is said to have been designed by Bramante. Interior decorations during the 16th Century were carried out by various artists including Giorgio Vasari and Francesco Salviati. The palace was later confiscated by the Church and turned into a Papal Chancellery. Now it belongs entirely to the Vatican. A part of the palace incorporates the 4th Century CE church of San Lorenzo in Damaso. You are advised to phone before visiting.
Two elegant twin fountains are to be seen in the wonderful Piazza Farnese. They are formed by two large ancient marble tanks that were originally part of the Terme di Caracalla but one was moved to its present position by Pope Paul III Farnese. The other was moved later. They only became fountains in 1626 thanks to Girolamo Rainaldi. The fountains are decorated with lions' heads, rings in relief, smaller basins, and the coats of arms of the Farnese family, and are topped by water jets.
Great artists contributed in the construction of Palazzo Farnese—Antonio da Sangallo was the first, having been commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Other contributors were Giacomo della Porta, and the great Michelangelo who redesigned the upper floors to make the palace taller and built the amazing cornice. The palace had already been enlarged in 1534, when Cardinal Farnese became Pope Paul III. On his death his two sons, Ranuccio and Odoardo, added to the decor inside to make the building more magnificent. When the Farnese family died in the mid-18th century, the palace fell into decline and was only saved from further neglect when it became the French embassy in 1874. The embassy still resides in the palace and recently the main façade was restored.
The Palazzo Farnese dominates the square. The fountain's basins come from the Caracalla thermal springs.
Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne was rebuilt after the previous building was destroyed by fire during the Sack of Rome. Its slightly curved form is caused by the fact that it was built on the ruins of the Domitian theatre. The architect, Baldassarre Peruzzi, turned to ancient Roman monuments for inspiration, but the façade facing Piazza dei Massimi was built in Renaissance style, with frescoes depicting episodes from the Old and New Testaments. The building is open to the public only on March 16 every year, to commemorate a miracle by San Filippo Neri who brought young Paolo Massimo back to life.
This institution was commissioned by Pope Paul III in order to defend private citizens from usury. The building was supplied for this purpose in 1603, and the institution moved there from its previous offices in Via dei Coronari. Refurbishment was performed by Carlo Maderno who also built the chapel. The façade of the building includes, between the two portals, a fountain bearing the emblem of Pope Paul V while, between the first floor windows, there is a niche containing a Pietà with, on each side, the emblems of Paul III and Clement VIII. The chapel is beautiful and worth a visit. Oval in shape, it is lined with green and dark yellow marble, while the niches present bas-relief work in white marble. On the altar there is a bas-relief by Domenico Guidi depicting the Pietà: clearly the sculptor was greatly inspired by the more famous Pietà by Michelangelo, done in 1499.