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Last edited 29 Jan 2021
A piazza is often a public square (although it is not always square). They are usually covered with a hard surface, but are not generally open to motor vehicle traffic. They may be suitable for open markets and social gatherings - both informal and official. People often consider the piazza as a place to conduct personal business or just gather to experience spontaneous conviviality over a cup of coffee or during a weekly stroll. Important religious and municipal buildings are frequently located in the piazza, which may also feature cafes, bars and shops.
This changed in medieval times, when cities grew around defensive structures and within walls. Piazzas were seen as dangerous places, since they could leave groups of people vulnerable to attack (or they could serve as gathering places for those looking to stir up rebellion).
 The age of the Italian piazza
The Piazza San Pietro (or St Peter’s Square) in the Vatican is one of the most famous piazzas in the world. Situated in front of St Peter’s Basilica, it was designed in the 1600s by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The centrally paved area is round rather than square and is flanked by gigantic columns.
 Alternative meanings of piazza
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