Hidden treasures

The 'Barco' of Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus, in Altivole

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The 'Barco' of Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus, in Altivole

One of the most charming figures of the history of Venice is certainly Catherine Corner, queen of Cyprus (1454-1510).

At the age of 18, she married Jacob of Lusignano, the king of Cyprus, to become a widow the following year. In 1489 she was forced to hand over the Island of Cyprus to the Republic of Venice, due to both private and political pressure.

As a consolation prize, the Venetian Republic gave her the feud of Asolo and allowed her to keep her title of Queen.

In 1491, in the village of Altivole, Catherine commissioned the construction of a palace that had numerous purposes: a place of amusement and recreation, an administrative and defensive centre. The Queen turned it into her court and the palace soon became a centre of humanistic studies visited by the highest representatives of the Renaissance in the Veneto region, among which Ruzante and Pietro Bembo, who wrote the renowned dialogues ‘Asolani' (1505) precisely in this location.

When Catherine died in 1510, the building was left to its testamentary heirs, to whom the finalisation and the custody of the palace had been delegated… Catherine's wishes were never fulfilled: no longer inhabited by the Corner family, the building and its gardens were left to waste. Already in the 18th century, the only remaining building was a barco, a longitudinal structure that still retains traces of the ancient splendour of this historical complex.

Today, it is still possible to admire the small gentilitial chapel, the central lodge decorated with paintings depicting Nereids, delphins and fetes, and a marble fountain wherefrom water once gushed.

The entire surface of the facade is decorated with paintings dating back to the sixteenth century, of which large parts still remain intact, depicting geometrical motifs and mythological episodes.

Altivole is located at approx. 40 minutes from Treviso... If you happen to find yourself nearby, we strongly recommend stopping at this evocative location, sign of the splendour of the Serenissima (i.e. the Republic of Venice) on the mainland. You can book a private transfer online at venetoinside.com and easily reach this locality!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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