la piazza del verzaro

Verzaro Square

The document of October 2014

On 20 August 1549, Ferrante Gonzaga granted ownership of Piazza del Verzaro to the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano. The name of this square originated from the presence of the vegetable garden belonging to the Archbishop's palace and to the fact that the stalls in the market square mainly sold vegetables. That these stalls were famous from long before is proved by the local chronicles, which tell of the rivalry between Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, and Cangrande della Scala, Lord of Verona, who had arrived in Milan to attend the coronation of the Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian as King of Italy, a ceremony which took place in the Basilica of St. Ambrose on 31 May 1327. 

The chronicles in fact relate that the Lord of Verona was jealous of Visconti, so much so that, in order to humiliate him, for many days he organised sumptuous banquets cooked with produce bought at the Verzaro market. Vegetables, fruit, poultry and game. Each day, however, the produce on the stalls were finer and more tasty than the previous day, arousing the jealousy of Cangrande and anger at the opulence and greatness of Milan.  

In 1549, the Governor of the City of Milan, Ferrante Gonzaga, granted ownership of Piazza del Verzaro to the Fabbrica del Duomo, as compensation for moving the shops built against the sides of the Cathedral for reasons of public decorum. In fact, at that time the Fabbrica owned 27 shops around the Duomo beneath the Coperto dei Figini (Figini's Cover), the porticoed building constructed by Guiniforte Solari on commission from Pietro Figino, as well as 107 areas around the Cathedral where the widest variety of goods were sold. A plan of Piazza del Verzaro, drawn in 1595, shows the stalls that the Fabbrica rented out to vendors, with a number identifying the stall and the name of the renter. 

The fountain that would later give the square its name did not yet exist. In 1610, the governor Fernando de Velasco commissioned the architects Barca, Bisnati, Rinaldi and Turati to design four fountains. One for Piazza Duomo, one for Piazza dei Mercanti, one for the Courtyard of the Palazzo Regio (Royal Palace) and the last one for the Verzaro.  In 1611, the same governor order that, without any delay, the shops in Piazza Duomo should be moved to Piazza del Verzaro, and those of the Verzaro should be transferred to Santo Stefano, as already ordered by his predecessor, the Count of Fuentes. In fact, the shops had not yet been moved, despite numerous edicts and proclamations. However, neither the construction of the fountain nor the transfer of the shops would be accomplished immediately. The first would be achieved only under Count Firmian, Austrian Governor General of Lombardy, as part of a reorganisation of the layout of the square; the transfer of the shops too would not be accomplished until over a century later.