PIAZZA DELL’INDIPENDZA is an extension of Via delle Terme. Originally, the area of the square was smaller than the present one, because the church of S. Pellegrino, demolished in 1812 to create a more comfortable space in front of the entrance of the Teatro dei Rozzi, stretched out there. the current title was given to it to remember the Italian independence achieved shortly after 1878, when the loggia was erected to house the memorial monument, dedicated to the fallen in the wars of the national Risorgimento.
In ancient times the square had different names: the most common was that of Piazza di S. Pellegrino; others were: Piazzetta del Grano, since the area was destined for the grain market, and Piazza dell’Arte della Lana. The entire area of the former Piazza di S. Pellegrino, with the reasonable exception of the stretch in front of Via delle Terme, was assigned by the 1729 notice to the Contrada Priora della Civetta.
The parish church of S. Pellegrino was leaning against the red apse of the Gallerani palace, which was partly covered, and against the imposing and very high Torre dell’Orsa, through which the ancient owners dominated the entrances into the square from both Via dell’Arte and Via del Termine. With the front part, the church of S. Pellegrino, which was joined by the chapel of the Lanaioli of the Most Holy Body of Jesus, occupied almost the entire square, on which it stretched with the raised churchyard of three steps and with its own space bounded by a wall.
The church was built around 1050 in place of an old hermitage. In the early days of the Republic was the seat of several magistrates and in the adjacent rooms were rented the Curia del Placito, the Provveditori di Biccherna, the Consoli delle Donne, the Collettori delle Decime, delle Condanne and del Dazio vecchio, so that the City in the thirteenth century paid the church of S. Pellegrino a perpetual fee and had painted fresh the walls of the Curia by the best masters who had the city.
A drawing by Macchi shows that, at the foot of the staircase in front of the churchyard, the church was bordered by a small wall; on the right, where this was the corner, a column with a wolf sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia had been placed. The stele was used by the Arte della Lana for the display of its banner.
In 1777 the chapel of the Lanaioli was totally demolished, and it had been forbidden to worship in 1575, on the occasion of the apostolic visit made to the Sienese churches by Monsignor Bossio. The parish was suppressed in 1783 and its title was transferred to the church of Santa Maria alla Sapienza; then, in 1812, the church of S. Pellegrino was completely destroyed.
After the demolition of the millenary building, in May 1879 the area was designated by the City Council to house the monument to the Martyrs of Italian Independence. The work was entrusted to the architect Archimedes Vestri who, in 1887, built in the background of the square a loggia with three arches, a new facade for the buildings on either side of this and a flight of steps on which two years later was placed the monument, the work of Tito Sarrocchi, representing a woman, Italy, who holds the scepter in his left hand, while with the right makes the act of laying on a lion wounded and dying lying at his feet a crown, on which it is written: TO THE WONDERS OF SIENA WHO FELL FOR ME. The statue was inaugurated on September 20, 1879 [The Free Citizen, 28 weeks. 1879].
Today the loggia is empty and useless. The sculpture of Sarrocchi was confined to a garden in the district of S. Prospero and two medallions depicting the famous heretics Lelio and Fausto Socini, who decorated the porch, were walled into the facade of Palazzo Sozzini-Malavolti in Pantaneto, on the side of Via Follonica.
Search and text by Alberto Fiorini (http://www.contradadellacivetta.it/piazza-dellindipendeza/)