Piazza Dante is the beginning of Via Toledo and, through the access to Port’Alba on the north side of the square, the same flows along the Decumano maggiore. Originally it was called Largo del Mercatello, because it was held, since 1588, one of the two markets of the city, differentiating with the diminutive market from the largest and oldest market in Piazza del Mercato.
The square assumed the current structure in the second half of the eighteenth century, with the intervention of the architect Luigi Vanvitelli; the “Foro Carolino” commissioned it was to constitute a commemorative monument of the sovereign Charles III of Bourbon. Since 1843 the central niche has been the entrance to the Jesuit boarding school, which in 1861 became the Victor Emmanuel II National Boarding School, housed in the premises of the ancient convent of San Sebastiano.
At the center of the square stands a large statue of Dante Alighieri, the work of sculptors Tito Angelini and Tommaso Solari junior, inaugurated on 13 July 1871 (date from which the square is dedicated to the great poet). Also, at the square there are four monumental churches: anticlockwise from the north that of the Immaculate Conception of Health Care, Santa Maria di Caravaggio, San Domenico Soriano and San Michele in Port’Alba.