Perugia - IV November Square
IV November Square (Piazza IV Novembre, ex Piazza Grande) is certainly one of the most beautiful Italian squares, a real monument for Perugia.
The square is situated where originally stood the Roman forum, today it is the centre of Perugia's social, religious and cultural life in the heart of the historic centre totally surrounded by medieval masterpieces, its ancient architectural buildings of high fame and prestige make it one of the most appreciated places in the middle of Italy and a charming meeting point for tourists and locals.
The beauty of the square is increased by the wonderful Fontana Maggiore (latter half of the 13th century), a real medieval masterpiece of the brothers Nicola and Giovanni Pisano and Fra’ Bevignate da Perugia; as part of a program of urban improvements, it was built to celebrate the construction of the new aqueduct and more than 800 years it is the arrival point for a water duct coming from Pacciano Mountain (Monte Pacciano); Fontana Maggiore was hit and heavily damaged by the earthquake of 1348, only in the half of the 20th century began the first restoration works that gave it its former splendour and made it the symbol of medieval Perugia; today it appears extremely sophisticated, thousands of tourists are daily attracted by the harmony of its lines and the elegance of its decorations; 50 bas-reliefs and 24 statues of stone decorate the fountain also made up of two poligonal and concentric marble basins adorned with a central bronze vessel and three nymphs holding an amphorae from which the water gushes, both basins are strongly decorated by biblical, symbolic and mythological figures; IV November Square overlooks the main façade of the Cathedral of St. Lorenzo (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, 4th-5th century) embellished by a rose marble staircase and a magnificent interior, its cloister is home to the Capitular Museum of St. Lorenzo (Museo Capitolare di San Lorenzo) a fascinating testimony of the artistic life in Perugia during the 15th and 16th century; on its sides are located the St. Bernardino's Pulpit (Pulpito di San Bernardino) and the bronze statue of Julius III; the side of the cathedral is characterized by the Loggia of Braccio Fortebraccio (15th century).
On the opposite side of the cathedral, between IV November Square and Corso Vannucci, the magnificent Prior's Palace (Palazzo dei Priori, between the 13th and 14th century) is considered one of the most remarkable Italian palaces; the history of this gothic building of stone is characterized by a number of reconstruction works and a fusion of various elements that culminated in a certain asymmetry of the façade; most of these works focused on the gradual expansion of the palace with the annexation of the Priors'Chapel (Cappella dei Priori) in the first half of the 15th century, the interior adornment during the 16th century and the fan-shaped staircase built in 1902, the portal is surmounted by copies of the heraldic town animals, the Griffin and the Lion of Perugia (the original ones, the most ancient and biggest bronze works of Middle Age, are hosted by the Umbrian National Gallery (Galleria Nazionale d'Umbria); the steps here lead to the Notaries'Hall (Sala dei Notari or Sala del Popolo) embellished with frescoes dating back to the 13th century; the ground floor houses the College of Merchandise (Collegio della Mercanzia) and the College of Change (Collegio del Cambio), two outstanding testimonies of the strong economic activity of Perugia as medieval commune; among the other offices we can find the Umbrian National Gallery, the most important Umbrian collection of paintings from Middle Age to 19th century and obvioulsy the Hall of the City Council that can be reached through a smaller portal.
IV November Square is today the main meeting point of Perugia, here it is very easy to find lively street performances, festivals or cultural events of any kind, not only a quantity of locals but also foreign students and tourists love to stay here for a little bit or flock together to the staircase of the Prior's Palace to sit and relax while experiencing the charming atmosphere of an ancient city of such rare beauty.