The term is roughly equivalent to the Spanish plaza. In Ethiopia, it is used to refer to a part of a city.
When the Earl of Bedford developed the first privately-ventured public square built in London, Covent Garden, his architect Inigo Jones surrounded it with arcades, in the Italian fashion. Talk about the piazza was connected in Londoners' minds, not with the square as a whole but with the arcades, which were called the "piazzas".
In Britain piazza now generally refers to a paved open pedestrian space, without grass or planting, often in front of a significant building or shops.
In the United States, in the early 19th century, a piazza by further extension became a fanciful name for a colonnaded porch. Yet, the word piazza was used by some, especially in the Boston area, to refer to a front porch, fanciful or otherwise, connected to a house or apartment.
Piazza is also a common last name for Italians and Italian-Americans. The name grew out of the region surrounding Venice, and large populations of Piazza reside in Calabria, Sicily, and Venice.
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