Prior to the arrival of the railway, in the middle of the 19th century, the Piazza del Popolo was a northern visitor's first view of Rome.
A plaque near the gate (Porta del Popolo) is a grim reminder that Piazza del Popolo was once the site of public executions. The plaque states that Angelo Targhini and Leonida Montanari, two members of a political group known as the Carbonari, were executed in the piazza on November 23rd, 1825.
The pair were just two of many to be executed here. On May 19th, 1817, Lord Byron witnessed three executions in Piazza del Popolo. And thirty years later, in 1845, Charles Dickens observed a single execution, which he describes in his book Pictures from Italy (1846).
Giovanni Battista Bugatti (1779–1869) was Rome's official executioner from 1796 to 1864. Nicknamed Mastro Titta, a corruption of maestro di giustizia (master of justice), he was the city's longest-serving executioner.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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