The Square of Sforza Cesarini
The Square of Sforza Cesarini and its surrounding area is of notable historic interest.
In this area in Ancient Rome there was a small port on the Tiber called Navalia superiora (Upper Navalyard) which was used both for military purposes and also for the delivery of goods valued by the merchants of the IX Augustan quarter, Campo Marzio (the Field of Mars). Near the river there was even the ‘Trigarium’, the camp for training the teams of charioteers who raced in the Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). Nearby you can still see a grotto which was a thermic outlet called the Tarentum dedicated to the Gods of the Underworld and, in fact, in 1883 under the Sforza Palace they found an alter dedicated to Dite and his wife, Proserpina.
During the Middle Ages there were many winding streets which converged on Piazza del Monte Giordano, described by Dante as a place of pilgrimage. Piazza Sforza was called Platea del Primicerio in the Middle Ages and Pizzo del Merlo during the Renaissance. Where today you find Piazza Chiesa Nuova there was a small depression called the Vallicella and a quarter called the Pozzo Bianco (White Well).
In the palace on the corner of Piazza Sforza, where you find the ‘Antica Trattoria Polese’, lived Vannozza Cattanei with her second husband, Giorgio de Croce, and with the five-year old Lucrezia Borgia (1485). You can, in fact, read a dedication by Vannozza ‘agli Agostiniani Ante est platea, ab uno latere via quae vadit ad Puteum Blarcum, ab uno latere ese via per quam itur ad Cancelleriam’ (the Old Chancellery is the present Sforza Palace).
The building with the tower on the corner of the square was the Boemi Hospice founded in 1338 and reconstructed by Charles IV in1437, as you can see from the plaque in the Via Banchi Vecchi.
The statue in the Square is of Nicola Spedalieri, philosopher and writer (1795) who wrote ‘Diritti dell’uomo’ (The Rights of Man). It is a work in bronze by the Sicilian sculptor Mario Rutelli (1903) who created the famous Naiadi (Nymphs) on the fountain in Piazza della Repubblica.
The trees in the Square are ‘Pawlonia Imperialis’ and are of Japanese origin. In the Spring they have large purple bellflowers with a delicate scent.