cosa vedere a Castefranco Veneto i poche ore- Duomo- campanile-alberi- merlature

A Brief Itinerary to Discover Giorgione’s Hometown

Are you in Veneto and deciding which places to visit? Read on and discover what to see in Castelfranco Veneto to include in your itinerary.

Castelfranco Veneto is a town in the heart of Veneto, centrally located in an imaginary triangle connecting the cities of Vicenza, Padua, and Treviso. Its strategic position is not coincidental; the fortified settlement was built in the late 12th century by the Municipality of Treviso to guard the border with the other two rival Venetian cities. Its peculiar name originates from the fact that one hundred free families settled there. They were granted tax-exempt lands and houses, making it a “franco” castle, meaning free from taxes.

Due to its strategic location, Castelfranco became a focal point in numerous conflicts over the centuries, enduring prolonged sieges. A positive turning point occurred when it, along with Treviso, fell under Venetian rule in 1339. Under the Republic of Venice, the town experienced economic development, exploiting the vast estates surrounding it. The surrounding area also became a sought-after holiday destination for prominent families of the Serenissima, who built beautiful villas.

This phenomenon contributed to the cultural growth of the small town, turning it into a meeting place for artists and architects. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Castelfranco is the birthplace of one of the greatest Venetian painters, Giorgione. Today, the historic center remains a fascinating place to visit for a few hours. Continue reading to discover what to see in Castelfranco Veneto in just a few hours!

What to see in Castelfranco Veneto:the Walls and Civic Tower

Upon arriving in Castelfranco Veneto, you’ll immediately notice the tall walls that largely surround the small historic center, forming the original perimeter of the town. The signs of time and the sieges it endured are evident, adding to their charm. The robust red brick square stands at 17 meters high and 230 meters per side, featuring four corner towers and two median towers.

What to see in Castelfranco Veneto in a few hours - Walls - towers - moat - battlements
Walls of Castelfranco (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Among them, the most beautiful and well-preserved is the so-called Civic Tower, standing in the middle of the eastern side of the city walls. Noteworthy is its large blue clock face topped by the Lion of St. Mark with an open book symbolizing peace. At its peak, compared to the other towers, there’s an octagonal bell tower with a dome. The tower is also interesting as it provides a privileged view of the surrounding area.

What to see in Castelfranco Veneto in a few hours - Civic Tower - clock - Lion of San Marco
Civic Tower (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Regarding the ancient fortress, it’s built on an embankment with a moat at its feet, still flowing with water. Along its banks, you can stroll in the shade of tall trees and fully appreciate its beauty..

What to see in Castelfranco Veneto : The Cathedral

A crucial site in a list of what to see in Castelfranco Veneto is undoubtedly the Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and San Liberale. While wandering along the outer perimeter of the ancient town, we discovered that it could be reached without passing through one of the two main gates. Crossing a small pedestrian bridge leads beneath one of the ancient towers of the city walls, just steps from the apse of the church. Its austere exterior with battlements made it challenging to immediately recognize its function as the cathedral’s bell tower.

However, a few steps further bring you to the small square in front of the church, also the only open space within the city walls. The cathedral’s facade is in neoclassical style, alternating white semicolumns and a tympanum with the pink of the wall.

What to see in Castelfranco Veneto in a few hours - Cathedral - facade-square
Facade of the Castelfranco Cathedral(Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Despite its external beauty, the real surprises are inside. Along the single nave, you can admire finely crafted works by some of the most important painters of the Serenissima. Notably, those displayed in the apse by Giambattista Ponchino, Domenico Pellegrini, and Palma il Giovane.

What to see in Castelfranco Veneto in a few hours - Duomo - Interior - banks
Interior of the cathedral

The Altarpiece of Castelfranco

Undoubtedly, the most significant work preserved in the Cathedral is Giorgione’s marvelous Altarpiece of Castelfranco, housed in a small side chapel. This masterpiece is extraordinary because, despite being the artist’s only altarpiece, it had a tremendous influence on Venetian painting of the time. Giorgione abandoned the architectural background for a more complex two-level composition. The lower level features a perspective floor and a balustrade covered with a red drape, while the upper level depicts a vast and deep countryside landscape populated on the right by two armed figures and on the left by a turreted village in ruins. The use of atmospheric light adds to its captivating allure.

Altarpiece of Castelfranco-Giorgione
Altarpiece of Castelfranco by Giorgione (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

The Sacristy

A lesser-known fact is that the sacristy also serves as a small art museum. Here, numerous works are displayed, rivaling those in the church. The collection includes paintings by Palma il Giovane and Jacopo Bassano. Above all, the presence of magnificent frescoes by Paolo Veronese depicting Time, Fame, and some virtues stands out.

Fresco of Time and Fame - Paolo Veronese - allegorical figures
Fresco of Time and Fame by Paolo Veronese (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Entry to the sacristy is not free, so we recommend asking one of the volunteers who graciously showed us around.

What to see in Castelfranco Veneto: Casa Giorgione

Adjacent to the cathedral is an ancient noble palace now serving as a museum called Casa Giorgione. The name doesn’t stem from the fact that it was the artist’s residence but because it is dedicated to Giorgione and his era. It revolves around the two works left by Giorgione in Castelfranco: the aforementioned Altarpiece of Castelfranco and a frieze depicting liberal and mechanical arts. Casa Giorgione is designed to immerse visitors in the art and culture of the late 15th century through suggestions, quotes, and images.

The exhibition skillfully combines multimedia with period objects to bring the visitor closer to the artist and the era. Particularly interesting is the display of scientific instruments that three-dimensionally reproduce the symbolic frieze of the palace.

Casa Giorgione -room of the Frieze of the liberal and mechanical arts - museum
Room of the Frieze of the Liberal and Mechanical Arts by Giorgione

Villa Parco Reverdin Bolasco

The last place to visit in Castelfranco within a few hours is not within the ancient fortress’s perimeter but a few hundred meters away. Villa Parco Reverdin Bolasco is located in one of the neighborhoods that sprang up around the walls, Borgo Treviso, easily accessible on foot. When you arrive, you immediately understand why this place was called “Il Paradiso” (The Paradise). An enormous park spanning over 7 hectares with over 1000 trees of 65 different species houses buildings and statues of undeniable beauty.

Villa park reverdin bolasco- Villa reverdin- trees- Hispano Moorish greenhouse
Glimpse of Villa Reverdin and the Spanish-Moorish style greenhouse

Walking through the park, you venture into undergrowth, pass by bodies of water and trees, cross elegant little bridges, and artificial hills. Additionally, you can admire unique structures, such as the Hispano-Moorish-style greenhouse and the villa with stables built by Francesco Reverdin in the 19th century. However, the northernmost part, furthest from the villa, holds the true masterpiece of the park: the Cavallerizza. This arena, used for horse training, is surrounded by dozens of 17th-century statues, making it truly monumental.

In the same area, remnants of the old 15th and 17th-century setups are preserved, such as the Gardener’s House and the Colombara Tower. The former is the oldest building in the park, intended for the villa’s gardener, while the latter is a tower from the mid-17th century, a testament to the grand Baroque garden desired by the owners of that time, the Corner family.

After all this exploring, you might want to try some typical dishes of Castelfranco Veneto. Keep reading to discover them with us.

What to Eat in Castelfranco Veneto

Even concerning food, Castelfranco Veneto doesn’t disappoint. The land it occupies is a crossroads of high-quality products that you can taste in one of the many establishments around and within the walls. For starters, you can enjoy a Prosecco from the nearby hills of Valdobbiadene or, alternatively, the most famous of Venetian cocktails, the spritz. As for typical dishes, a local product takes the lead: Castelfranco variegated radicchio. With its delicate and versatile flavor, it’s used in various dishes from appetizers to desserts (we recommend trying the Radicchio Cream in almond waffle; it was a delightful surprise for us!).

As an alternative to radicchio desserts, you could try the fregolotta, a dry cake made of flour, almonds, eggs, sugar, salt, and milk cream. It’s ideal for those wanting to take home a sweet memory of Castelfranco Veneto.

Now that you know what to see in Castelfranco Veneto in just a few hours, we hope you can include it in your Veneto exploration itinerary. If you plan to stay, click here to discover the best accommodations at the best prices! And let us know if you enjoyed your visit.

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What to see in Castelfranco Veneto
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Explore the charm of Castelfranco Veneto! Discover what to see in Castelfranco and enrich your Veneto itinerary.
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La Scimmia Viaggiatrice