Countries of the World
Monselice, a little known gem in north-east Italy.

it's located 22 km south of Padua province (Veneto region).

The municipal territory includes the outlying villages of Monticelli, Marendole, Ca'Oddo, San Bortolo, and San Cosma. Monselice is near an exit off the Padua-Bologna toll road. The Bisatto Canal runs through the town and leads to the Brenta coast. Numerous provincial and municipal roads connect Monselice to the surrounding towns and to the city of Padua. Railway service connects the town to northern and central Italy and the Po River Valley.

The name of this town was originally "Monsilicis". The area where it now lies was inhabited during the Bronze Age, and was later colonized by the Romans. The Lombards took over the area in the seventh century AD. Monselice became a free city-state in the twelfth century, and was later occupied by Ezzelino da Roman, lieutenant in the army of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia. Monselice became the object of contention between Cangrande della Scala and the Da Carrara family in the fourteenth century. The town was fortified at that time, and was considered one of the Walled Cities of Venetia. It became part of the Republic of Venice in 1405; patrician families such as the Marcello, the Duodo, the Nani, the Pisani, and the Contarini built their sumptuous homes here. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Renaissance elements were added to the town's medieval structure, and in the seventeenth century, Baroque decorations made of local stone were added, to embellish the downtown area.

We begin our tour of Monselice in the central town square, which is called Piazza Mazzini. A thirteenth-century tower soars above the plaza, with parts of the old town wall still attached to it. The Church of San Paolo stands opposite the town tower. A very valuable fresco was found in the crypt of this church, which dates back to the Dark Ages. The fresco portrays St Francis of Assisi; it is the oldest existing image of the saint to be found in the entire Veneto Region. The Monselice Civic Museum is located in the church and an adjacent hall called "Sala della Buona Morte".

From the town square, we walk up Via del Santuario. Next we come to the castle, which dates back to the Dark Ages. It was renovated by Ezzelino da Romano and further expanded by the Da Carrara family. After Monselice joined the Republic of Venice, the castle was bought and completely turned into an aristocratic residence by the Marcello family.

Throughout the centuries, the castle was seriously pillaged and damaged various times. Count Vittorio Cini restored it to its ancient splendor, and filled it with valuable collections of weapons and antique furniture. The "Antiquarium Longobardo" is set up in the library of the castle. It holds the important remains from the Lombard civilization that were found in a tomb on the castle hill.

As we continue climbing the hill after visiting the castle, we come upon Villa Nani-Mocenigo, a sumptuous building from the late Renaissance period. It has a dramatic outdoor staircase with statues, which connects the various terraced levels of the lawn around the mansion. The Church of Santa Giustina is located a little further on.

This is the Monselice Cathedral; it was built in 1256 upon the wishes of Cardinal Simone Paltaniri, Archpriest of Monselice. It is Romanesque with Gothic decorative elements, and houses valuable works of art and sacred furnishings. On the list of canons that served the Cathedral throughout the centuries, we find the great poet Petrarch.

Moving on up the hill, we reach the Jubilee Sanctuary of the Seven Churches (Santuario Giubilare delle Sette Chiese). An archway that was built in 1651 leads into the church. This church was designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi on commission to the noble Venetian Duodo family. The seven altars in the church are related to the seven indulgences granted by Pope Paul V to believers who visited the seven major basilicas of Rome. The first five chapels in the church have valuable altar-pieces by Palma the Younger. The last chapel, which is dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, holds an altar-piece that has been attributed to Loth.

St George's church: originally a private chapel of Villa Duodo, it has been a place of prayer since 1600, where the bodies and important relics of the first Christian martyrs from the Capitoline catacombs are still preserved. It completes the votive way of the "Sanctuary of the Seven Churches".

Villa Duodo: summer residence of the Duodo family, it was built in 1593 by the architect Scamozzi, and completed in 1740 by the architect Tirali. The staircase on the villa is named after St Francis Saverius, the Spanish Jesuit missionary who stopped by the town in 1537 (on the eve of departure on his long trip to the Far East), and a chapel in the villa is also dedicated to the saint.

Villa Emo: set in the mild countryside surrounding the town. An important example of the Venetian aristocracy country-seat, it was designed and built in 1588 by Vincenzo Scamozzi, along the Bisatto Canal, from whose banks it once stood out clearly, and appears today protected by two rows of very tall trees, which isolate its magic.

The gentle landscapes of the Euganean Hills are one of the main attractions and tourist destinations of the Paduan territory. The climate is particularly mild and allows extensive wine and oil-growing with excellent results. The enchanting landscape of the hills has attracted and inspired generations of poets, writers and artists.

Children in Monselice (about 1959).

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Monselice, a little known gem in north-east Italy. (Countries of the World)    -    Author : ROBERTO - Italy

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