The square is the ancient “Campo dell’Abate” which was sold in 1212 by the prior of San Mercuriale to the Forlì community, which later became Piazza Grande and it is still today one of the most evocative squares in Italy, thanks to its size and the beauty of its enclosing buildings. It is located at the crossroads of the four main streets of the city, following the Via Emilia.
At the time of Caterina Sforza, it was the beating heart of the city. Here, markets, trade and acrobats’ shows, as well as tournaments, religious festivals and sermons took place. The square was also the place where the Executioner exposed the condemned to the pillory, and where public death sentences on the gallows were sadly carried out.
At the time of Caterina Sforza, some of the buildings on the square today already existed such as “Palazzo del Comune della Signoria” , which at the beginning of the fifteenth century had become the residence of the Ordelaffi family and the political power center of the city.
From the third window of the first floor on the left side of the façade, is the “Nymphs Room” where the Orsi brothers threw, after murdering him, Girolamo Riario, first husband of Caterina Sforza.
The “Palazzo del Podestà” is a Gothic style building, completely rebuilt around 1460 under the direction of Matteo di Riceputo, uncle of Melozzo degli Ambrogi.
On the ruins of a previous building erected a few months before but collapsed immediately after is the “Albertini palace”, the elegant fifteenth-century building with explicitly Venetian characteristics. At the time of Caterina Sforza it was owned by the Albertini family which included Ludovico, a trusted apothecary and a close friend of the lady from Forlì.