A picturesque corner in the heart of Trastevere district, Piazza dei Mercanti represented a place of great importance over the centuries, thanks to its proximity to the ancient port of Ripa Grande. The square was where the trades of goods, carried by boats from the sea and by small boats pulled by oxen along the riverbank, took place.
At the end of the 1600s, following the construction of the Apostolic Hospice of San Michele, the appearance of the square underwent significant changes, and numerous small buildings were incorporated into the new structure. Later, at the end of the 19th century, the port of Ripa Grande was demolished to allow the construction of the massive retaining walls along the Tiber.
However, the square preserves the atmosphere of Rome of the past: on the corner with Piazza di Santa Cecilia, it is possible to admire a suggestive tower house, dating back to the second half of the 13th century, once probably owned by the Humiliates, an order dedicated to the art of wool and suppressed by Pius V in 1571.
According to tradition, the building, known as Casa di Ettore Fieramosca, was the home of the famous condottiere, after his return from the Challenge of Barletta in 1503. Currently private property, the structure seems to be the result of a fusion of several buildings and is a rare testimony of a well-preserved medieval house.
Nearby, worth mentioning the Museum of Santa Maria in Cappella, set up around the small church consecrated in 1090 and housed today inside the Complex of Santa Francesca Romana- a 19th-century hospital built by Busiri Vici, the Monumental Complex of San Michele a Ripa Grande, and the Basilica of Santa Cecilia.
Piazza dei Mercanti was also the setting for some important films of Italian cinema, such as Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves) by Vittorio De Sica, Peccato che sia una canaglia (Too Bad She's Bad) by Alessandro Blasetti and Mamma Roma by Pier Paolo Pasolini.