In 1987 I was accepted as an exchange student and graduate student in residence at the Palazzo Pio on the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome.
The Campo, or square, is not a large square nor is it a small space as far as such places go. In Rome there are much larger public spaces, and there are smaller, more intimate spaces attached to the urban fabric of the City. The Campo is not as grand as the Piazza del Popolo, nor as formal as, for instance, the Compidoglio. But suffice to say that for a time I was intimately and emotionally attached to the Campo de’ Fiori.
As I understand it, both the Campo itself and the Palazzo Pio owe their very existence to the original Roman foundations beneath them. The very trace of the Palazzo Pio’s footprint was apparently built upon the foundation of the ruins of the Temple of Venux Victrix of the Theater of Pompey.
The Palazzo Pio itself was said to have originated with a medieval structure built upon the ancient Roman foundations and was said to have been re-constituted as a Palazzo (palace) during the Renaissance. The Palazzo’s formal organization in elevation follows the classical model pertaining to elite members of Italian Renaissance society of the period, including retail functions at the ground floor, support and public family functions at the middle floor, and private and formal familial functions at the uppermost (or piano nobile) floor.
Somehow upon arrival at the Palazzo I was fortunate to be housed in an apartment on the piano nobile – not all of my fellow students were so fortunate.
That said, for those of us who were there we enjoyed a mid-level and amazing hang-out space, an intimate hang-out overlooking our esteemed position directly above the daily cycle of the Campo de’ Fiori.