So Old? That’s was my first thought when I saw the Saffi Square Portocoes decorated with some original banners, showing the milestones of the the 800 years of this beautiful place. As a matter of fact, is one of the hugest squares in Italy, maybe because before becoming what it is now, it was just a country yard, used for the market and then, in the Middle Age, as a battle field.
Piazza Saffi, a history of fights and democracy
For the Forlì inhabitants, and for me too, is the principal meeting point, a place where children can run free trying to catch pidgeons (which here have found their balance with human beings and other animals such as dogs and cats!), where the traditional market take place twice a week and where you can sit resting for hours, doing nothing, on one of the white stone banks, around the oval supervised by Mr Saffi Statue.
The square has really changed during the ages, as you can see in these old photos. Having Mr Saffi statue at your back, you will now see the National Mail Main Building, a beautiful example of rationalist architecture (see older posts about Atrium Blog Tour). Before this place had some ancient noble palaces, signs of the noble families living in Forlì. Palazzo Rolli was one of this. In the lower floor, the place hosted some artisans shops, after moved to the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, placed in Corso Garibaldi (one of the main four streets of the center town).
In this old foto you can see at the right the San Mercuriale church with its tower, then in the center the old noble palaces and in the center the column with the statue of the virgin Mary.
The old building was renewed in the Mussolini age, following a Renaissance style but with moder elements. In this photo as it is now.
Now if you looking at you left, entering via delle Torri you will notice some metal bubbles on the street pavement. Forlì was once crossed by a river and there, where the bubbles are now, there was one of the bridges to cross for entering the town. Actually we are talking about two bridges, the other one is exactly on the opposite corner of the square. Knights bridge and Bread bridge: two symbols of the town.
The river was very important, it made the mills work and allowed people to produce bread but also to have fresh drinking water and made the public lavatories work.
It also was the West border of the town, towards via Emilia, Faenza and Bologna.
Strolling around Forlì
Via delle Torri was the noble residence street, and still you can find ancient buildings near modern once. Following this street you will arrive to Piazza Ordelaffi or Piazza della Prefettura. The main building is the headquarter of the Prefetto, a sort of political governor, created at the time of Napoleon Italian occupation and still existing. For this reason you cannot visit it, but you may ask to enter and visit the Italian garden which is one of the internal gardens that every palace in Forlì used to have.The palace, started in 1673 was never finished till countess Giulia Piazza, marrying Giacomo Paolucci, decided to finish it and create a public school. Only in 1936 it became a tribunal.
The fountain was built in 1958, one of the weird things of my towns, by architect Ugo Savorana, and it’s a 17th century style.
Well, it’s just a corner of the square and one of the streets and I only wrote a part of the history. Read more in the following post.
Thanks to Serena Togni and Federazione guide turistiche di Forlì.
Some tips to start your itinerary in Forlì
Mr Saffi Statue: the center of the square. He was a republican, the first writing about European Union, which he calls the Young Europe, the first to understand that people needed democracy. If you need a meeting point, just say, let’s meet under the statue!
The National Mail Building: you can visit the main hall, opened to the public, but since it’s a public office, ask before taking photos. By the way, mind the wet floor when it is raining, it’s sloppy because it marble.
Via delle Torri, a very nice street for shopping, for a coffee and for taking photos of the gorgeous Lillium tree near the Manoni art shop.
Piazza Ordelaffi and surroundings. Before entering the square, take some time to visit the public gardens on the right, with a nice monument, shaped as a big leaf, and stroll along this little street full of shops, traditional food boutiques, and local people doing the daily food shopping in the morning. Piazza ordelaffi is another reference point. The Cathedral hosts the ancient painting of the Madonna del Fuoco, the virgin protecting the town. ( I will tell you about it in the next post)