Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Ten days in the Veneto (without Venice)

February - March 2017


You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Treviso sights (1)

Our second day in Treviso, in the Locanda San Tomaso near the San Tomaso gate at the north of the walled inner city, 1 March 2017.

Off to see the sights. The Locanda San Tomaso occupies the centre and right buildings on the block. The vast pay-parking extends out the Piazza Burchiellati to the left, and there is a free carpark 600m to the west just outside the city walls.

The pedestrian/cyclist Porta San Tomaso (first built in 1518), with the Trattoria San Tomaso (good) alongside it on the left, and TVBurger (also good) on the right.

Turning from the piazza at the Borgo Mazzini westward on the Via Sant'Agostino towards the city centre. Treviso is presently a small city of more than 80,000 citizens, some 3,000 of whom reside within the early 16th century city walls that still ring the town centre all round. It's perhaps best known today as the headquarters of a number of well-known clothing brands, including Benetton, and for its Prosecco wine.

The Chiesa di Sant'Agostino. There was a rectangular probably-Lombard church here as early as 1148, but the present building was begun in 1752 and consecrated in 1767.

The single arched hall, on an elliptical plan, is conspicuously 18th century but retains some earlier objects and frescoes from its predecessor and other local churches, including statues of St Augustine and his mother St Monica.

The 'Flagellation' is a 14th or 15th century fresco.

Outside the Church of St Augustine, Via Mazzoni running north. Treviso was a settlement of the Celtic Veneti prior to the Romans' arrival, but was designated a municipium in about 89 BC when the Romans expanded over Cisalpine Gaul. It became a prosperous trading centre, called Tarvisium, with its proximity to the crossing of the long-range consular road the Via Postumia and the Via Claudia Augusta.

Our first stop today: the Civic Museums and pinacoteca in the former St Catherine's church

The Chiesa di Santa Caterina was built on the site of the palace of the Da Camini family -- the Caminesi were a very old clan in the March of Treviso, perennial Guelph enemies of the Ghibelline Ezellini da Romana. They obtained rule of Treviso in the 1230s and again in 1283 when Gherardo III da Camino was made lord of the city; he was a well-known soldier and patron of the arts and hosted Dante Alighieri here (who called him the 'Good Gherardo' in the Purgatorio), but in 1312 his son and successor was murdered, the palace destroyed and abandoned for thirty years.

The church was begun on the spot in 1346 by the Servite Friars or Order of the Servants of Mary, dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria, paused for the catastrophic years of the Black Plague, and only completed, with its attached convent and cloisters, in the early 15th century. The church and convent were damaged in 1508 by the allies of the League of Cambrai in their assault on Venetian territory, and then deprived of many of their artistic treasures in 1590 by the Servites trying to comply with the Council of Trent's austerity mandates.

Through one of the two cloisters to the entrance. In the end, the convent went out of business in 1772 and the church ceased its functions under Napleonic pressures in 1806; the buildings were used in the 19th century by the French and later Austrian militaries as warehouses, stables, and barracks, causing further architectural and artistic losses. Happily, in restorations repairing damages from the Allied bombings of the church in April 1944 and March 1945 a large number of paintings and frescoes were discovered hidden or covered over. The complex was reconfigured as the city's art and archaeological museums beginning in 1974.

Before entering the museum, we have our names and contacts taken down by a friendly Dominican inquisitor.
(The Dominican monk Marcantonio Luciani, by Lorenzo Lotto, 1525)

A doubtfully penitentish Mary Magdalene (attributed to Guido Reni) (We collect Magdalenes.)

A perplexing epic, probably meant to go on the ceiling, by Sebastiano Ricci (ca. 1703), 'The allegory and virtues of the princely virtues'

John the Baptist at work

A 'Crucifixion' by Bassano (Jacopo Da Ponte), from Bassano, with the Madonna, Mary Magdalene, St Jerome, and John the Evangelist, ca. 1563

A Madonna and Chubby Child by Cima da Conegliano of the Venetian School, ca. 1505, with nice landscape backgrounds

'Herod's Banquet' by Rubens, ca. 1638 (We collect beheadings.)

Fast forward to 1851, Courbet's 'The village girls'

A modern classic: 'The Madonna and me', Carlo Guarienti, 1975

Archaeological things

We're on our way out -- there was an exhibition of Impressionism going on as well, through to May 2017, not so much to my taste, as it happens.

We're retracing our steps from yesterday's carnevale parade, along the Via San Leonardo to the Canale Cagnan.

The river Botteniga, down from the north, is broken up at the northern wall into one canal that runs around outside the eastern wall; the Cagnan down the centre of the city; a few blocks to the west the Canale Buranelli; and the Roggia just west of the Duomo, all emptying into the river Sile which passes through the southern part of town and empties into the Venetian Lagoons.

There were several waterwheels, for milling local grain, posed around the waterways, and the canals were navigable in early times, capable of transporting fish and other goods from the docks on the Sile into markets in the city centre.

The present fish market, the Isola della Pescheria, still in service.

The Treviso fish market. The present fish market island was created in the 19th century by engineering a number of small islands in the Cagnan; formerly the market had been in the Piazza Monte di Pièta behind the central Piazza dei Signori, but the then-Austrian authorities disliked the smell.

Closing up for the day (it's open only in the mornings)

Kristin at the fish market

The Isola della Pescheria on the Canale Cagnan

The Canale Buranelli, with art. Fish for the old fish market in the Piazza Monte di Pièta were brought up here for shifting over to the market; many of the fish salesmen came up from the island of Burano in the Venice Lagoon, thus the name of the canal.

The Piazza Monte di Pietà, with the Palazzo dei Trecento on the left and the back of the Prefettura and civic tower on the right

The Palazzo di Monte di Pietà behind the Prefettura -- it was built in 1462 and later expanded over the top of the Chiesa di Santa Lucia on the right. The Monte di Pietà ('fund of piety') movement began in the late 15th century and spread all over western Europe. It was backed by the Franciscans and was intended to protect the poor people from the usurious interest rates of organized banking institutions, including 'the Jews' -- the idea was that poor people could deposit an object of collateral and receive a small loan at a not-for-profit interest rate for overhead, a pawnshop in effect.

The Palazzo dei Trecento, aka the Palazzo della Ragione, was begun in about 1185 and completed in about 1268, intended for the municipal administrative council, who are apparently still up there. 'Trecento' refers to the three hundred members of the Maggior Consiglio or Supreme Council. The area of the arcade is said to have provided accommodations for a security squad of 50 knights with their captain, but the arches were opened out in 1552.

The Palazzo dei Trecento, beautifully rebuilt after the Allies bombed the daylights out of it in April 1944, perhaps for good reasons, who knows?

In the loggia of the Palazzo dei Trecento, something has caught Kristin's eye.

Oh. Nice. [The Fontana delle Tette, Fountain of Tits, was first made in 1559 to celebrate the end of a drought, and since then until 1797 it was made to dispense, each time a new podestà came on duty, red wine out of one, white wine out the other, free for all citizens for three days. So we've been told.]

The Prefecture and Torre Civica on the Piazza dei Signoria. The Palazzo della Prefettura, formerly called the Palazzo della Signoria, was built in about 1217 when the municipal offices in the Palazzo dei Trecento next door became inadequate. It also served as the residence of the podestà and his entourage -- since the law required that he be recruited from outside the region, he would have no lodgings of his own. The bell tower behind it was built in 1218.

The Palazzo dei Trecento from the Piazza dei Signoria, where yesterday pirates, medieval dragons, swarms of bees, and leering demons were paraded past serried ranks of enthusiastic Carnevalistas.

The Churches of San Vito and Santa Lucia. San Vito in the foreground was mentioned in 833, with an adjoining hospital, but rebuilt in the 12th century and completely renovated in 1561; the front portico was added then, additional halls of the Monte di Pietà (the windows above) just behind it were built over it, and a door was added intercommunicating with the Church of Santa Lucia on the left. Santa Lucia dates from 1354 and incorporates grounds of Santa Maria delle Carceri (St Mary of the Prison), the then-prison complex.

Via Inferiore, gazing out at the Chiesa di San Vito

Making a reservation for dinner. It did not meet our expectations. Not even close.

Down the Via G. Bianchetti, looking at the belltower of the Duomo and baptistery

The Palazzo Bomben -- the back of it, on the Via Cornarotta. The original palace, from before 1280, belonged to the Da Castelli noble family, and later to the Da Carraras of Padua during their brief rule up to 1388. It was renovated in the neoclassical style by the Bomben family in the 18th-19th centuries, but bombed to smithereens by the Anglo-Americans in 1944 and finally renovated by the Fondazione Benetton beginning in 1999.

We're on our way out to the suburbs to retrieve our cute little Volvo, and this is the river Botteniga coming into the city from the north.

The mighty Botteniga splits off here, with one channel, of the same name, continuing round the east side of the city walls, and the three channels of the Cagnan, Buranelli, and Roggia separating here --

Like this . . .

Water control mechanisms separate the Botteniga into channels through the city to the river Sile.

The recreational path along the top of the city walls (we're returning from the free carpark)

The belltower of the Church of Saint Francis

The Chiesa di San Francesco

The Church of St Francis is an early Gothic all-brick building, built between 1230 and 1270 with a single nave in a Latin Cross style. Like other churches in the region, including the Duomo di Treviso, it was looted by Napoleon's army and in 1806 converted by the laws of the French 'Kingdom of Italy' into stables, barracks, and storehouses, whilst its associated convent and cloisters were destroyed.

Two famous poetical progeny are residing here -- Pietro Alighieri (above, supine), Dante's first son, a judge in Verona, who died whilst visiting here in 1364, and Francesca Petrarca, the humanist Petrarch's daughter, who died here in 1384 during the residence of her husband, an official working for Francesco I da Carrara, briefly lord of Treviso in the 1380s.

The church was renovated and in 1928 reopened for God's work, apparently turned by the city over to the Franciscans once again. Many of the splendid 14th and even 13th century frescoes have been preserved.

Most of the important Trevisan families had their decorated chapels here. On the left, a Nursing Madonna with saints (including St Christopher), by the Master of Feltre, a student of Tommaso da Modena, dated to 1351.

Still another St Christopher, this one evidently late 13th century

Assembly line confessionals

The long-range view of the nave and five chapels

Nearby, we're crossing the Ponte dei Buranelli along the Via Campana

Along the Canale dei Buranelli

A footbridge just upstream. Treviso was designated by the Carolingians as the capital of the 'Marca Trevigiana' or Treviso frontier region. After a period of independence in the late 12th century, with the rise of the seignories in northern Italy in the 13th century, Treviso was ruled by the Ezzelini da Romano until 1260, then by the Caminesi until 1312, then by the da Carrara and Scaligeri, and by 1388 the city signed up with the Venetians and was rewarded with the impressive defensive fortifications many of which still exist.

Over the Buranelli towards the Piazza San Vito again

The Piazza San Vito

An architectural beehive

Piazza San Vito views

The French showed up in 1797, but after the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) most of northern Italy was handed to the Austrians -- the Trevisiani rebelled in 1848 but threw in the towel after heavy bombardment and remained Austrian until the Veneto was annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy in 1866.

San Vito. After Italy's horrible defeat in the Battle of Caporetto, late 1917, Treviso found the Austrians on its doorstep once again, during the Battles of the Piave and of Vittorio Veneto in 1918. We Allies bombed Treviso silly on Good Friday, April 1944, and destroyed much of the medieval centre of the city, with more than 1,000 civilian casualties.

Through the arches into the Piazza dei Signori

The loggia of the Palazzo dei Trecento

Viewing political posters

Particularly this one from Amnesty International, "Truth for Giulio Regeni", the Italian university student who was tortured to death by Sisi's Egyptian goons in February 2016, for which the Egyptian government has so far paid no price at all, of course.

Next up: the Duomo, on Treviso sights (page 2)


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 23 May 2017.


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