The Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a square in the city of Lucca, built on the remains of the ancient Roman amphitheater (2nd century AD), which determined its closed elliptical shape.
The square was born in the Middle Ages and in this era was called “Parlascio”, a crippling of the Latin paralisium (“amphitheater”), which was influenced by the word “talking”, indicating the place where citizens’ meetings were held. It was progressively filled with buildings, variously used as storage of salt, powder magazine, prison.
Only in the nineteenth century, thanks to the architect Lucchese Lorenzo Nottolini, was decided an urban renewal of the ancient structure. The space of the arena was thus freed from the small buildings that crowded it and the “via di amphitheater” was opened, which traces its elliptical profile to the outside. The new urban space was used for the city market (food market), until – in the first half of the twentieth century – the headquarters was moved to the Mercato del Carmine.
To date, the floor of the square, on which there are many shops, is raised about 3 meters from the Roman arena. Access to the square is possible through 4 vaulted doors, but only one of these, the lowest, follows exactly one of the original accesses. A curiosity to note, is the cross engraved on a tile in the center of the square, at the point of intersection between the 4 doors