Vicenza / Surroundings

Montecchio Maggiore

Montecchio Maggiore

An attractive town which unites its rich history and natural setting with important industry.

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Montecchio Maggiore’s fame in the world’s eyes rests with the Montague family and the adventures of the Shakespearian lovers Romeo and Juliet. However, despite the presence of the two castles on the neighbouring green hills there is no firm evidence that they were inhabited by the Montague and Capulet families.

The two Scaligeri castles were once known as the Castello della Bellaguardia and the Castello della Villa. Tradition has re-christened them Romeo’s Castle and Juliet’s Castle. And it cannot be denied that their suggestive locations, their romantic ruined and atmospheric presence and the fact that access to them is by the Via San Valentino (Saint Valentine’s Way) have played a major role in influencing their fate as the castles of legend.

The most important monument in Montecchio itself must be the Villa Cordellina Lombardi, a homage to classical architecture and the spatial innovations of Palladio, constructed between 1735 and 1760 under the direction of the celebrated architect Giorgio Massari. Its Ionic pronaos of four columns which one encounters immediately on entering the villa almost gives the appearance of a pantheon, whilst the magnificent interior houses Giambattista Tiepolo’s fresco cycle 'The Triumph of Reason over Ignorance and Passion'. Also admirable are the french gardens decorated with statues.

The centre of Montecchio itself contains the Villa Lorenzoni, home to the prestigious Museo Civico, and the 15th century bell tower adjacent to the church of San Pietro al Costo, with its noteworthy 16th century bas-relief above the door.