There has always been a particular area in Parma dedicated exclusively to the market place and it is called Piazza Ghiaia. This name arises from the square’s origin, born in 1177 a.C after several violent rainstorms fell on the city and surrounding mountains producing one of the floods typical of torrents such as the one in Parma. It was a time when high and completed river barriers had not yet been built, thus the floods caused serious damage every time, with water entering every city street.
However, one time due to the presence of reinforced barriers on only the eastern side of the riverbed built briefly before, the Parma Torrent broke through towards the western part invading the land beyond the torrent and deviating from its rightful course.
The large area that remained uncovered, was levelled and built up for residents, taking the name of “Little Jar” (in the area that is present-day Romagnosi Street) and “Big Jar” (the present-day Ghiaia), which are even now at a lower level compared to the area along the torrent banks.
The Ghiaia has, since the Middle Ages, been used as a market place, and even more when, in the 18th century, the market stands were moved from the Grand Square. The enormous unmistakable red columns created by Nicola Bettoli were destroyed during World War II, but several years ago Ghaia’s market structure was restored and upgraded.