If the Roman Forum was the centre of Ancient Rome, the area between Campo de Fiori and the Tiber was the centre of the city in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Campo de Fiori is not a designed square, like other famous squares, it does not have important churches and palaces, but it was a lawn on which the market was held and a place of passage, a connection between the Chancellery, Farnese Palace, the Tiber, the Jewish neighbourhood.
It was a place of executions and now is the centre of nightlife.
In the centre of Campo de Fiori there is the monument dedicated to the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was executed here.
The buildings located between this square and the Largo di Torre Argentina were built, starting after the collapse of the Empire, on the ruins of the oldest theatre in the city, the Pompeo Theatre, and still retain their semicircular shape.
Palazzo Orsini Pio Righetti, (READ ALSO) with the image of the unfinished building, overlooks Piazza del Biscione from which the Passetto with its frescoed vault starts. The columns of ancient Rome emerge from the walls, creating impressive images.
Fortunately, this complex was only touched by the pickaxes that destroyed so much, from 1870 to 1936, with the excuse of archeology.
Crossing via Arenula, created with post unification demolitions, you enter the neighbourhood that has always been inhabited by Jews. This neighbourhood became a ghetto in 1555.
In fact, in that year Pope Paul IV Carafa, a destructive personality, established the Jewish Ghetto in Rome and imposed a series of severe limitations on the Jews.
This neighbourhood was surrounded by a wall within which the Jews had to reside, the doors were closed at sunset and reopened in the morning.
The Jews had to carry a distinctive sign, they could not own real estate or exercise professions or businesses, with few exceptions. The wall remained standing for almost three hundred years, and was demolished in 1848 by Pius IX.
After 1870 the largely dilapidated houses were demolished and in 1901 the great Synagogue was built.
Inside the Ghetto there is the Portico di Ottavia, a building rebuilt at the time of Augustus and then used for centuries as a fish market. Near the ghetto there are a series of palaces of the Mattei and Costaguti families, with in the centre the beautiful Tartarughe Fountain, designed in 1580 by Giacomo della Porta. (READ ALSO)
A few steps from here there is the palace of the Cenci family, which brings us the memory of the story of an unfortunate girl. In fact, in September 1599, three noblemen were sentenced to death in front of Castel Sant’Angelo.
22-year-old Beatrice Cenci, was accused of killing her father (a violent and depraved man) in conspiracy with her mother, Lucrezia and her brother, in the castle in Petrella Salto on Lake Salto.
After a year of imprisonment in Castel Sant’Angelo they were executed in the square by beheading, by order of Pope Clement VIII Aldobrandini.
Caravaggio was also present at the execution, who a few years later would risk the same end.
Palaces, castles and other belongings of the family, put up for auction, were bought at a good price by the Pope’s nephew Cardinal Pietro.
A few months later in February 1600, the same fate fell to the philosopher Giordano Bruno burned for heresy in Campo de Fiori. Under orders of Pope Clement, in name but not in fact.