"Whichever way you look at it, there are so many different angles which open to the wonder [...]. And piazza Mercantile can be compared to a model, with never a pose that has been already seen before without the secret of its beauty being revealed, without ever stopping winning our hearts as if it were the first time. " So the writer and journalist Lino Patruno describes the old urban space used by merchants since medieval times.
You can reach it from Piazza Ferrarese, from strada Francigena, from strada degli Orefici, from Via Re Manfredi and from Vico Corsioli. Connected to via Venezia by a ramp near the stone lion, to Imperatore Augusto seafront through an arch between the walls, to the Basilica of Saint Nicholas through the rua fragigena, the square maintains its original shape even if today its surroundings have been profoundly transformed.
Piazza Mercantile, Piazza Maggiore, Piazza Grande, or however you want to call it (various names have been used since April 1958 when it was decided to use the ancient name of piazza Mercantile). The piazza has always represented the heart of commercial and administrative activities in the city due to the presence of the city market (not currently in this area) and of the palazzo Sedile, which is the historical reference point of Bari city Hall. Today, for the citizens of Bari it is an irreplaceable meeting point.
Free from the tarmac which had polluted the piazza for many years, piazza Mercantile offers visitors some of the essential and characteristic signs which we can not fail to mention: the palazzo Sedile, with a sixteenth century clock tower as its backdrop; the Palazzo della Dogana, probably built in the sixteenth century by the Duchess Isabella Sforza of Aragon as shown by the stone emblem affixed on the building's facade; the stone lion, or "Colonna infame", which, with its apotropaic value "guards" the city limits and also lends itself to the entertainment of children; the fontana barocca, or "fontana della pigna" so called because of a bronze pine cone that would have been at the top (XVI-XVII century) of a stem at the center of a monolithic marble basin, with four faces to the upper edges; a bas-relief of a beautiful Madonna dating from the XV-XVI centuries.