The area, part of a larger market square in ancient times, was the home in the medieval era of the powerful shoemakers’ guild, which owned the northern side and rented spaces to other traders. Butchers in particular had their shops here, and until the 15th century the entire product processing cycle was carried out here, from the animal to shoes and bags.
It later became known as “Piazza delle Erbe” as it was used as the site of the vegetable market until the 19th century. It also included a wooden aedicula with an image of St. Lawrence, the priest and martyr from Novara, who was revered by the city’s greengrocers and fruit vendors.
The porticoes around the square, although originating from different eras, give it a uniform and elegant character. According to tradition, the columns on the north side were spoils of war from Biandrate, which was razed to the ground by the counts of Novara for its loyalty to Barbarossa.
On the eastern side stands Casa Canobio, a building that preserves 15th-century features, including traces of decorative frescos and circular terracotta reliefs with profiles of the Roman emperors Nerva and Galba. In 1592, Amico Canobio, founder of the Sacro Monte di Pietà, donated it to the Municipality on the condition that a school was opened, which was administered by the Jesuits in the 17th century and remained open until 1849.