Elegant Padova -- known in English as Padua -- is home to an ancient university, a Basilica that is an important centre for pilgrims and a chapel containing one of the world’s greatest art treasures. Use this website to help you plan a visit to this fascinating northern Italian city and find your way to the other beautiful towns and villages in the Veneto that are perhaps less well known to tourists.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Take a day trip to Castelfranco Veneto

Within a short distance of Padova by train or car, the historic city of Castelfranco Veneto is smart and prosperous with a wealth of good shops, restaurants and bars.
On arrival, head to the lively Piazza Giorgione, where you can sit outside one of the bars and feast your eyes on the imposing 12th century defensive walls surrounding the historic centre, which is known to locals as Castello.
Castelfranco Veneto's defensive walls
The dark red brickwork has faded to pale pink in places and the towers have weeds growing out of them but you can still see why the walls behind the moat kept neighbouring armies at bay.
If you go through the walls at Via Garibaldi and walk past the 18th century Teatro Accademico you will reach Piazza San Liberale and the pink and white Duomo.
To the right of the altar is the jewel in Castelfranco’s crown, Enthroned Madonna and Child with St Francis and St Nicasio by local artist Giorgione. As one of only a handful of paintings definitely attributable to the Renaissance genius, it is amazing that it has remained above the tomb for which it was originally commissioned.
At nearby Casa Giorgione you can see the frieze in a first floor room that makes experts believe the house was the artist’s birthplace. Study the objects and scrolls he is thought to have painted as a youngster and join in the long running debate about their meaning. Some see the frieze as a reference to the frailty of the human condition - grimly prophetic for someone who was to die at 30 during an outbreak of plague in Venice.
Bars in Piazza Giorgione
To try dishes typical of the Veneto, visit one of the friendly, family-run osterie inside the ancient walls. Try specialities such as trippe (tripe), baccala (salt cod) or seppie (cuttlefish).
Make sure you sample the famous Castelfranco variegate, a special type of radicchio, which is served as a vegetable or in pasta and risotto.  Look out for the popular local dish, risi e bisi (rice with peas), cooked Castelfranco-style with cheese.
If you are a fan of Prosecco, the Veneto’s light, dry sparkling white wine, you will enjoy a trip along the road between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, 40 km of gentle hills with ancient hamlets and wineries offering the opportunity to taste Prosecco DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) the stamp of quality given to the best wines.
There are designer clothes shops and shoe shops in Piazza Giorgione but if you want something unusual to take back with you look out for a small shop selling antiques and bric a brac in Via Garibaldi opposite the Teatro Accademico.
Castelfranco Veneto is about 30 km from Padova and there is a good train service between the two cities.


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