The Sala, as it is commonly referred to in Pistoia, is one of the city's oldest squares.
lts name comes from the Lombard word for the building where the public administration was located and, in fact, this was the site of the viceroy's house during Lombard rule. No trace of this prominent building has survived today but the site's importance is recalled in the name of the Baptistery which has always been referred in as in Corte because of its location near the curtis domini regis.
The street that linked the Sala to the gate of Porta San Pietro (today the via di Stracceria and the via della Torre) was called the via regis.
With the construction of the Palazzo degli Anziani in the Communal period the center of city life shifted back to the piazza del Duomo and the Sala became the center for free trade and commerce that it is today.
A market, mostly selling food products, evolved and artisans established their workshops here. The memory of these different activities still survives in the names of the nearby streets and squares: via del Cacio, sdrucciolo dei Cipollini, via dei Fabbri, via degli Orafi, via del Lastrone (which takes its name from the large stone on which fish was sold) and the Piazza degli Ortaggi (which today hosts the sculpture Giro del Sole by the Pistoian artist Roberto Barni).
Iin the mid 1400s the piazza was paved and, to ensure public health, the magistracy ordered that meat was no longer to be butchered in the open air. In this way they put a stop to the use of the well - later known as the Pozzo del Leoncino - as a dump for discarded meat scraps.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the Michelucci iron works built permanent metal stalls for the food merchants; during the first two decades of this century, the stalls were substituted by stands made in masonry and the piazza was newly paved.
American bombing of the city greatly damaged the walled stands so that after the war they were replaced by a reinforced concrete structure (which the Pistoians called il gabbione or large cage) to be used as an indoor market. At this time the Leoncino well was moved to the cathedral square where, deprived of any possible use, it became a kind of monument.
The piazza della Sala regained its original appearance after restoration in the late 1980s, with the return of the Leoncino well and of the stands selling food goods.
Comune di Pistoia