Italy Piazza Maggiore

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
The Piazza Maggiore is the hub of historic Bologna. It is surrounded on each of its four sides by some of the most important historical buildings in the city. Dominating the square is the Basilica di San Petronio. The Square dates back to the 1200s when the city began to acquire land and tear down buildings in an effort to create a meeting place for the Bolognese. Citizens came to the square to hear new laws, witness executions, shop and socialize.

In 1860 the square was dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuele II, however the statue of the King on horseback was moved to the Giardini Margherita in 1943 and the square was renamed to Piazza Maggiore (main square).

To give you a sense of the size, it is almost the length of a football field. It seems to always be busy with people. The piazza is often Ground Zero for student and labor demonstrations and is a prime location for summer festivals and open-air cinemas.

The raised floor of the piazza is called the crescentone after the local flat bread—crescente. An American tank damaged the platform on April 21, 1945—the day of liberation. It was left to memorialize the historic event.

There is a superstition among university students that if they cross the square diagonally, their graduation time will be lengthened.

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