Dwight Peck's personal Web site

The Veneto region in May 2017

A restful week around the Euganean Hills


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.

A first look at Este

We were visiting the Veneto region north of Venice earlier this spring, and now we're back to see some more of what we missed farther south.

We're entering Este through the city gates, 14 May 2017, piggybacking on our morning visit to Montagnana, just 14km due west along the SR10. The gloriously historical Este family, lords of Ferrara as well as, sometimes, Modena and Reggio, has fascinated us for years, especially after a visit to Ferrara, so we've come to look at where it all began.

Parking in the Piazza Trieste, one block over from the main square. Este began life as a Bronze Age settlement, through the Iron Age to Roman times, distinguished by what has been called the 'Este culture'. By the early 2nd century BC, it had become a Roman colony called Ateste (residents of Este are apparently still known as Atestini). The era of 'barbarian invasions', however, especially that by Attila's Huns, left the city in a dreadful state for half a millennium.

The Piazza Maggiore or main city square, with today an open-house outreach programme by all of the city's emergency services.

The Croce Rossa Italiana, Red Cross personnel cooling their heels

The early Este family were evidently Franks possibly from Mainz -- Oberto I was made Count Palatine of Italy in the Holy Roman Empire of the 10th century, his son Azzo I was Margrave of Milan, and his son Alberto Azzo II was Margrave of Milan and Liguria and count of lots of other places as well.

The gatehouse at the Porta Vecchia. In 1073, Azzo II built a castle in the then-small village of Este and chose it as his family residence, adopting the name as his family's. His oldest son Welf moved north and became Duke of Bavaria through his mother, and when he switched his support in 1077 from the emperor to Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy, he bestowed his name (in Italian, 'Guelph') on Italian political discourse and civic factionalism for the next several centuries.

The elder branch of Estensi from Azzo II through Welf led to centuries of Dukes of Bavaria and Saxony, amongst other responsibilities, and later Electors of Hanover and Kings of Great Britain from 1714 to 1901.

Azzo II's second son Hugh inherited the County of Maine in France but died without issue. His third, Fulco I, Margrave of Milan, continued the younger branch of the Este family, which moved its 'capital' to Ferrara in 1240.

This, according to the wall plaque, is the 14th century Palazzetto Scaligero (or Palazzetto degli Scaligeri) and present city hall. Around the time that the Este family was shifting house to Ferrara, the town of Este was conquered by Ezzelino III da Romano, twice in fact, in 1238 and 1249. In the tumultuous next century, it was temporarily swept up by the Scaligeri of Verona (whence, presumably, this building), the Carraresi of Padua (whence the Castello Carrarese just up the hill), and the Visconti of Milan, until, like many other towns in the region, in 1405 Este invited the Republic of Venice to come on down and provide some stability for a change.

After the Napoleonic Wars, Este and the whole region of the Veneto were incorporated into the Austrian Empire, but were annexed by the Kingdom of Italy in the Third War of Independence in 1866.

All of the emergency services are out in force today to demonstrate for the citizens the sophisticated help that's available to them and the commitments that have been made on their behalf. All that's missing is the citizens.

A neat mobile CSI crime lab (smaller than the one in the great Danish TV show Unit One)

The lions of St Mark, with their cannonballs, Venetian branding

The Duomo -- we're bypassing it today but will be back a few days hence.

The city walls and the Castello Carrarese, now a huge public park, and the Museo Nazionale Atestino in the 16th century Villa Mocenigo built into the walls.

The Museum specializes in pre-Roman and Roman-era art and archaeology from the local area, and is very well respected for that.

But there are also palace decorations from restorations after a fire in 1785 and original frescoes in a few of the rooms that were untouched. The interpretive explanations are very well done, but only in Italian.

That wheeled bird is meant to be remarkable, but I've lost my notes on it.

A playground within the "castle grounds", or city park.

-- Okay, the point has been made.

An original fresco, dated to 1337 and attributed to a Giotto-style Padovan artist

Divers, swimmers, and dolphins were associated with the passage over to the afterlife (if I recall).

Archaeological scenes

This nice picture (despite the glare) is attributed to Cima da Conegliano, dated to about 1504, one of his many versions of this subject.

Ouch!

The well-preserved one kilometre of walls and 12 towers of the Castle of Este, or Castello dei Carraresi, were built around the then-city in the 1340s, by Ubertino da Carrara, over the ruins of 11th century works that were destroyed by Ezzolino da Romana's men in 1249.

The donjon, or castle keep, at the top of the hill. Following Este's absorption into the Venetian Republic's defensive plans, the castle was sold off to the aristocratic Mocenigo family, who built the palace now housing the Museo Atestino in the late 1500s.

We're out of time today but will return to Este in a few days. This popped out into the road on our way home. (It's the Chiesa della Beata Vergine della Salute, 1639, in the middle of a traffic roundabout in Este.)

We're back to the Ca' Vejo in time for a late afternoon rest before dinner . . .

. . . and a stroll along the complicated system of waterworks amongst which it sits.

Like this

And the autostrada A31 just 350m to the east

Bilingual graffiti

Local wildlife

Next: A trip up Monte Grappa


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 23 July 2017, updated 13 August 2017.


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