“Piazza Garibaldi” is the heart of the city, not only because it is where all the town’s main streets converge, but also because the square’s so-called "plank" (the central white marble flagstone) is a hangout for the population. Furthermore, the weekly market is held here, as are major outdoor events, such as the traditional “Fiera di Piazza di Spagna” and “Fiera di San Carlo”. It is a large square, one of the largest in northern Italy. Designed in the seventeenth century, it was originally made of clay. In 1813 it was paved and took on its present appearance. Most of the buildings around the square, especially the Town Hall, date back to the nineteenth century.
The “Teatro Comunale” is an elegant and graceful example of an 18th C. theater. Designed by Andrea Mones (who also decorated the ceiling of the town’s Concert Hall), it has a typical Italian-style horseshoe-shaped layout, three tiers of boxes and a gallery. It was built between 1782 and 1783, commissioned by a group of twelve wealthy citizens. Its construction further enhanced Casalmaggiore’s status as a prestigious city, at that time thriving under Austrian dominance. The theater continued to thrive throughout the 19th C. during the period of “Melodrama”, and the building was even expanded to include a large hall for hosting the popular “Fastassa” dance parties. However, the theater closed after long period of decline in the mid-twentieth century, and was only reopened to the public in 1989. Today the theater hosts a prestigious season of opera.
This charming square at the end of “Via Favagrossa” is sourrounded by some of the most important buildings of Casalmaggiore. Go to the square to admire “Palazzo Tentolini Mina”, the “Duomo di Santo Stefano” and the particularly interesting “Monastero di Santa Chiara”.
The current Town Hall was designed by the architect Giacomo Misuraca in the late nineteenth century after the previous building had to be demolished due to severe structural problems. Exposed brick, pointed arches, mullioned windows and battlements are typical of the neo-Gothic style used at that time to recreate a medieval effect. Inside the Town Hall, Lombardy’s proud Municipal independence is depicted in two paintings that hang there; a portrait of Giovanni Baldesio (by an anonymous artist), and “The Oath of Pontida” by Giuseppe Diotti. Legend has it that Giovanni Baldesio challenged the Emperor’s son to a game of boules and won, and the prize was that the whole town of Cremona was exempt from paying taxes for a whole year. “The Oath of Pontida” meanwhile was an oath signed by the towns of Lombardy pledging their allegiance to the “Lega Lombarda”, an alliance formed to protect against the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th C.
This Tower is the only remnant of the ancient 11th C. fortification, when Casalmaggiore was a domain of the Este family; the tower was the entrance and the nucleus of the castle, and was home to the local garrison. Later during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was used as a prison. The ancient defence walls that extended out from the tower were demolished between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.