The town hall at the Piazza Libertà in Salsomaggiore Therme. At the right side of the town hall lies the piazza Vitale Zancarini.

Piazza Libertà | Salsomaggiore Terme

Salsomaggiore Terme is a town in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. The main focus of the town lies in its baths. The Terme is situated in the centre of the town at the large main city square. Just behind the facade lies the Piazza libertà, a nice and small urban square. The piazza is hard-break clustered with the smaller Piazza Viatele Zancarini.

Piazza Libertà | SalsomaggioreMain building and route

The Palazzo Comunale (the town hall) is the main building and forms the link to the Piazza Vitale Zancarini. Originally, the town hall was constructed in the later 14th-century. Its current form was given in the 18th-19th-century. Although the town hall is located at the head of the square – which makes the square a long square – the building isn’t any higher than the surrounding facades.  The Via Romagnosi is the main street and enters the square in front of the town hall. Here, The main path turns right into the Via Giuseppe Mazzini and leads through the Piazza Vitale Zancarini to the main city square at the bathing house.

Shape, size and enclosure

Basically the Piazza Libertà has a rectangle basic shape, with a length of 42 meters (about 138 feet) and a width of 15 meters (49 feet). The length is 2.8 times the width. The measurements and proportion fit in Camillo Sittes regularities, although it is almost too long. The connected square Piazza Vitale Zancarini measures 18 by 22 meters (59 by 72 feet).

The main route is over the Piazza Libertà, so there’s enough crowd and traffic to pleasantly fill the space. The main route continuous  allong the east side of the Piazza Vitale Zancarini. Due to a lack of a crowd-attracting function at the west side of this little square, the piazza is no more than a passageway to the city’s bathing house.

The square is well enclosed.  All streets enter the square at other angles and at each point only one street opens the facade. The facades height (3-4 storeys) is in proportion to the squares width. The landmark at the head of the square has the same height.

Functions

The piazza is part of the pedestrian area of Salsomaggiore Terme and located at a central location. There’s a continuous feeding of people to the square. The area – and therefor also the square – has a shopping function. The town hall gives the square its unique character.

IrregularitiesThe town hall at the Piazza Libertà in Salsomaggiore Therme. At the right side of the town hall lies the piazza Vitale Zancarini.

The Piazza Libertà looks homogeneous, but there are a lot irregularities, only they’re subtle. It looks like all the buildings have the same tint, but the colour variates in yellow, white, orange and terracotta. It seems like they are all three or four stories high, but some are two and even one is five stories high. The square looks like a perfect rectangle, but it’s slightly convergent and the town hall facing side is leaning. All streets enter the square at a different angle to each other, and all with a different angle compared to the adjacent side of the square.

Conclusions

The Piazza Libertà fits naturally in the central district with shops, pubs and pedestrians. Therefor, the square is a pleasant spot to be on when strolling through the village. Being part of the urban and functional structure is in my opinion the main purpose of an urban square.

I like the irregularities. They are subtle, but effective. Especially the way how the streets open differently compared to the adjacent side of the square.

I also have some remarks. The Piazza Libertà feels close to a wide road instead of a narrow square. The proportion (1 : 2.8) is almost out of range. At such a proportion I expected a higher landmark at the head of the square.

It’s nice the Piazza Libertà is clustered with the Piazza Vitale Zancarini as a passageway to the Terme. Singly, this last square isn’t so noteworthy.

What do you think?

How do you rate the Piazza Libertà as an urban square?

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