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Montagnana,  beyond the walls and into history

beyond the walls and into history

23 June 2021

A treasure trove of culture and beauty

In the province of Padua, steeped in history and natural beauty, the village of Montagnana, situated around fifty kilometres from the major Venetian cities of art such as Padua, Verona, Vicenza and Rovigo, truly deserves a visit.
Montagnana is a tiny medieval pearl that owes its beauty to the III-IV century town wall, with its two kilometres of perfectly preserved bricks that surround the village's historical centre. An example, completely unique within Europe, of medieval military architecture which, together with its wealth of artworks from the Renaissance and Venetian periods, has resulted in Montagnana being added to the list of Italy's most beautiful villages as well as being awarded the Touring Club Italiano's orange flag. The beautiful town walls are further embellished by its twenty-four towers and four gates.
These, together with the Castello di San Zeno and Rocca degli Alberi, two bastions erected to protect the town's two most ancient gates, are glorious vestiges of an era when this village represented a strategically vital stronghold in the southern Paduan territory.
In addition to the extraordinary fortified structure, the village's unique urban fabric, comprising historical streets and buildings, make Montagnana the ideal location for marvelling at stunning exemplars of architecture from the medieval era. They include the Chiesa di San Francesco (San Francesco Church), flanked by a small square lined with lime trees, magnificent edifices from the Venetian period and the splendid cathedral, with its imposing late-Gothic look and Renaissance extensions that house the works of important artists such as Giorgione and Veronese. The elegant Valeri palace and the ancient Monte di Pietà (Mount of Piety) also face out onto the square.

Local cuisine, traditional dishes, interesting facts

A visit to Montagnana can never be contemplated without savouring the taste of one of its high quality local products: the Veneto Berico-Euganeo PDO prosciutto, and every May a festival is held to celebrate this exceptional delicacy. Pink tending towards red with a delicate, sweet, fragrant aroma, the Veneto Berico-Euganeo PDO prosciutto is an absolute must-not-miss in one of the area's many restaurants, perhaps enjoyed with an appetising side dish of vegetables preserved in oil, in a risotto or with slices of melon to complete the queen of summer dishes.

Where to eat enjoying a bottle
of Acqua San Benedetto

Hostaria Zanarotti, Montagnana (PD)

A horse race immersed in tradition and a fairytale atmosphere

There are endless reasons to visit Montagnana, chief among them is the Palio dei 10 Comuni, an annual event that takes place during the first weekend of September on the green lawns surrounding the village's medieval walls. A historical, yet fairytale-like, re-enactment that transports visitors back in time to the glorious Middle Ages, where the main event is a thrilling horse race: ten jockeys compete against each other, in an atmosphere of great emotion and enthusiasm, to secure victory for their contrada (quarter). Several secondary events take place before and after the palio, making it a much loved and anticipated event.

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