Piazza Grande and the Portici del Grano

In the past, the town hall was the hub of the city’s economy and most trade took place in its vicinity. Thus Town Hall Square was surrounded by wheat, vegetables, flour, fish, meat, salt, wood and coal markets, while cattle and foodstuffs markets, which needed plenty of space, were held in the area around the austere Pilotta palace. The commercial use of the square goes back to Roman times – and probably even further back than that – when the Forum, the political, religious and administrative heart of the city, was the venue of meetings and exchanges. The porticoes of the Merchants’ Palace stood on the area now occupied by the Banca Commerciale. The vaults on the ground floor of the Town Hall are still called Portici del Grano, after the wheat markets that were held here until the 19th century