It’s still very much in search of its own identity, this civic space. One might say: “so goes the piazza, so goes the city”. In a rags to riches and back again story, the area was once a modest fairground of the people and had the name Largo di Palazzo. Claimed by the Spanish for their palace, the French and Bourbons who came after redesigned the piazza in their own image. Later, it took on the name Piazza del Plebiscito in honour of the 1860 plebiscite (vote) that annexed the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to Sardinia, part of the process that led to the unification of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
The 1950s relegated the piazza to a bus depot, the 1960s to a car park, which remained until the G7 came to town in 1994. A year later, Mimmo Paladino’s enormous installation piece Salt Mountain was erected in the piazza, triggering a cultural renaissance that has been revitalising the city ever since.
Today, Piazza Plebiscito is a pedestrian area, a pass-through and a playground – code for watch out for flying soccer balls – and it’s a 25,000 square metre open air arena set between the city and the sea.
In recent years it has hosted some of the city’s biggest events, and has served as the stage for some of the best names in music – Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Andrea Bocelli, Sting and Pino Daniele, to name just a few.
This is an amuse-bouche for a brand new book! Bonnie Alberts, Barbara Zaragoza, Erin Romano and Penny have created the Napoli Unplugged Guide to Naples! Visit partenopepress.com and facebook.com/NUGuidetoNaples to find out more.