Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (M. Cerrai, Comune di Pisa)
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (M. Cerrai, Comune di Pisa)
The square is dominated by the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, sculpted by Cesare Zocchi and inaugurated on 22 September 1892 in the presence of King Umberto. According to a local tradition, full of the typical Pisan irony, the long feather on the helmet was added to make the person's shape appear more slender, since the Italian sovereign had an evident roundness to him, and thus the royal nickname of 'spiombato' was born from such a physical shape. The square was crossed by medieval walls and within the underground parking lot, the base of the Porta San Gilio and some structures of the external drawbridge (XII century) have been brought to light. The 'carraia pontis veteris', now Corso Italia, started from the square, where now we can see the building of the Pisa Chamber of Commerce, or M.A.C.C. (meeting art craft centre), a project by Lamberto Bartolucci of 1952. The square also overlooks the Post Office building, built in a neo-Gothic style in 1929 by Federigo Severini and the building of the former Province of Pisa, also built in a neo-medieval style, but with a more sober style, by Federigo Severini in 1935. Between the two large buildings stood the customs barrier Vittorio Emanuele. From the square it is possible to see the back and the bell tower of the Church of Sant'Antonio (St. Anthony) Abate, which was destroyed during the terrible bombing of 31 August 1943. The church, founded in 1341, was a monastery until the First World War, when it was used as a grain depot. Of the medieval aspect only the lower part of the façade remains, with blind arches striped by bands of white and grey marble. On the right side of the former monastery we find Tuttomondo, Keith Haring's iconic mural painted in 1989. From the square we can also see the Pisa Central railway station, which was inaugurated in 1871 and today is one of the busiest in Italy, with almost twenty million passengers a year.
Vittorio Emanuele II, after whom the square is named, had many love stories, until the age of twenty-seven, where he met the love of his life. He was already married, and had four children with the fifth on the way, when he met the young Rosa Vercellana. Everyone called her the Bela Rosin and she was only fourteen years old, but for him it was love at first sight. She was not a noble like his first wife, Maria Adelaide of Habsburg-Lorraine, but he named her countess of Mirafiori
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II was the set for some scenes of the film Imbarco a mezzanotte (Stranger on the Prowl) (1952) by Joseph Losey. The film is based on the short story La bouteille de lait by Noël Calef and was shot in the Pisorno studios, but also in the streets of Pisa and Livorno, that were still marked by the devastation of the war, which left destruction and poverty. The protagonist Paul Muni, a desperate man, is caught while stealing food and kills the shop owner before running away. While being chased by the police, he is joined by Giacomo, a boy who in turn is fleeing thinking he is being chased for stealing a bottle of milk.
Last update: 01/04/2021
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