Campo dei Fiori, a piazza in the historic center of Rome, is one of the top squares in Rome. By day, the square is the site of the city's best known open-air market (see Rome's top food markets), which has been operating since 1869. In the evening, after the fruit and vegetable vendors, fishmongers, and flower sellers have packed up their stands, Campo dei Fiori becomes a nightlife hub. Numerous restaurants, wine bars, and pubs crowd around the piazza, making it an ideal meeting point for locals and tourists alike.
While it figures into the fabric of modern life, the Campo dei Fiori, like almost all spots in Rome, has a storied past. Here is where the Theater of Pompey was built in the 1st century B.C. In fact, the architecture of the some of the square’s buildings follows the curvature of the ancient theater’s foundation. By the Middle Ages, this area of Rome had been largely abandoned and ruins of the ancient theater taken over by nature. When the area was resettled in the late 15th century, it was called the Campo dei Fiori, or “Field of Flowers,” even though it was promptly paved over to make way for lavish residences, such as the nearby Palazzo dell Cancelleria, the first Renaissance palazzo in Rome, and the Palazzo Farnese, which now houses the French Embassy. Bypassing the Campo dei Fiori is the Via del Pellegrino, the “Pilgrim’s Route,” where early Christian tourists could find food and shelter before traveling on to St. Peter’s Basilica.
During the Roman Inquisition, which took place in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, public executions were carried out in Campo dei Fiori. At the center of the piazza is a solemn statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, which is a reminder of those dark days. The statue of a cloaked Bruno stands at the spot in the square where he was burnt alive in 1600.