Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples, Italy

Built during the Napoleonic occupation of Naples, the Piazza del Plesbiscito represents what can and can’t be a great public space.

Only a few years ago the plaza was filled with parked cars, but a redevelopment plan returned the area to a pedestrian zone.

Nonetheless, the huge size of the plaza can be daunting, and a bit intimidating. Certainly that was the original intent, as its builders wished to frame the front of the Royal Palace on the far side of the plaza.

But when I returned to the plaza on Sunday, after photographing it on Tuesday, it was filled with people, spilling out from the nearby Spanish Quarter and the Via Toledo. Such a large public space only works because of the density of the nearby neighborhoods. Otherwise, I am afraid even a huge crowd could be swallowed up in its expanse.

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