Treviso / Surroundings

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Castelfranco Veneto

Castelfranco Veneto is an imposing, solemn and remarkably well-preserved Medieval town. Its walls were erected at the end of the 12th century at the height of tension between itself and its rival Padua, which in response built Citadella.

The town structure consists of two perpendicular axes which cross at the centre of the city; surrounding it a high red-brick quadrilateral with five towers built over an existing earthwork. The fortified town arose at a strategic point between Vicenza, Treviso, Padua and Bassano, and the administration of Treviso, in order to please the population (with the aim of defending the town) ordered their exemption from paying tax: from this we get the name Castrum Francum.

Castelfranco is particularly famous for its most illustrious son, Giorgio Zorzi, better known as Giorgione - 'great Giorgio'. This epithet appears to refer to his physical presence, though we cannot rule out the possibility that it alludes to a certain greatness of soul. His enigmatic and unsettling works, allegorical plays of light and 'impossible' colours (impossible for anyone but the master himself) make him one of the most important artists of the 15th century.

Though his outstanding masterpiece The Tempest is today to be found in the Accademia museum in Venice, his home town preserves many breathtaking works: the world-renowned Pala del Duomo altarpiece portraying the recently restored Madonna and Child with Saints Liberal and Francis, and the intriguing frescoes adorning the Casa Pellizzari, which according to tradition was the artist's birthplace.

Inside the walls, Piazza Giorgione is the real core of the  town. Here we find the unmissable 18th century Duomo designed by Francesco Maria Preti, and which contains works by Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Bassano, Paolo Piazza and many other artists of the Venetian school.