One of my favorite piazze lies behind the much more famous Campo de’ Fiori. I like to pick up something to eat at the venerable Forno Campo de’ Fiori and head to the quieter, and much more beautiful, Piazza Farnese to enjoy my snack.
There are many things I like about this piazza, but the fountains have always been my favorite feature here. Made from gigantic, ancient Roman sarcophagi taken from the Baths of Caracalla, they are topped with a flamboyant fleur-de-lis. Not only are they beautiful, but they invite you to take a rest and enjoy the square, listening to the sound of the fountains, children playing, and people chatting as they stroll through the piazza.
The piazza is named for one of the beautiful palazzi, which itself is named for the noble Farnese family. One of the more famous members of that family was Giulia, the beautiful mistress of Rodrigo Borgo, aka Pope Alexander VI.
Palazzo Farnese itself is massive yet graceful, perfectly balanced, a true Renaissance palace, as you can see from the engraving at the top of this post. Michelangelo himself had a hand in designing it.
The palazzo has been the French embassy for many years, so the French and European flags fly from the little central balcony. France has a hundred-year lease, and pays a rent of just one euro per year.
One thing that makes me long for yesterday is the long ledge running along the palazzo’s piazza-facing wall. It was the perfect place to sit and enjoy that snack, watch the kids on their bikes, and just hang out. This was phased out recently, I assume due to security reasons. Just one of the things I miss in Rome, sitting in this sweet piazza, watching the world go by.