For local people, the different piazzas at the old centre of the city – Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta and Piazza dei Signori – are inevitably linked with the markets that are traditionally held here every morning. Coming here to shop is a pleasure, a sort of daily ritual that is the perfect opportunity to meet up with friends. However, it is also worth looking upwards, to admire the architecture of the historic buildings and balconied houses that frame the square. Along the two long sides of Piazza dei Signori run lines of porticoed houses whose facades are elegantly decorated with wrought-iron balconies. The two shorter sides contain, at one end of the square, the church of San Clemente, and at the other Palazzo del Capitano, which incorporates the Clock Tower under which one passes into Corte Capitaniato and then into the square of the same name. This court and square were part of the site occupied by the Palace of the Carraresi, which is now occupied by the building which houses Padua University’s Faculty of Letters and contains rooms with frescoes by Altichiero.
On the south side of the Piazza dei Signori stands the elegant Loggia del Consiglio (also known as the Loggia della Gran Guardia). This sixteenth-century building was once used for assemblies of the city’s Great Council and stands atop a wide flight of steps that led up to the loggia and the meeting chamber beyond.