Treviso is a tony town located halfway between Venice and the Dolomites, a lesser-known city but one worth exploring. It offers beautiful atmosphere of porticoed facades, elegant palazzi, and pretty piazzas, with canals slicing through the center for added appeal. Treviso is one of the Veneto region's "secrets" - a lived-in and lovely city that doesn't get hoards of tourists.
Treviso was founded by the Romans then became a city state. It tied its fortunes to its bigger sister, Venice, during the grand era of the Serenissima, or the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Many of its architectural and artistic highlights took hints from Venezia, though it also adapted styles to suit its provincial charm. It has an upscale feel among its palace-lined streets and an air of affluence. There are plenty of designer shops, trendy cafes and gourmet eateries, along with homey places mingled in, too.
Treviso's heart is centered in the Piazza dei Signori, the city's political seat and gathering space since the Roman times. Here you'll find the Palazzo della Prefettura with its tall clock tower rising high above it. Also called Palazzo del Podesta', it has continually housed the city's government for centuries, first under the "signori" (lords) and now as town hall. The Palazzo dei Trecento, or palace of the 300, was originally built in the 1100s and was home to the city's council (300 men). It was unfortunately heavily bombed during WWII, but rebuilt in the neo-gothic style you see, retaining its arcades, and is still home to Treviso's town council. It also hosts special exhibits. The piazza's buildings sport arcades, giving it an elegant atmosphere. There are cafes on the piazza where you can enjoy a cappuccino or drink while watching the people-parade. Treviso was the birthplace of Benetton, and the company's flagship store is here.
The Via Calmaggiore, Treviso's main street, leads from Piazza dei Signori to the Piazza del Duomo, where you'll find the city's cathedral. The Duomo has a neoclassic facade; the church is capped with seven domes. It is dedicated to St. Peter. There are masterpieces in the Chapel called Cappella Malchiostro, including works by Titian and Pordenone. Not far away is the de-consecrated church of Santa Caterina, now a museum with glorious artwork by Bellini, Titian, Lotto, Bassano and more. The church of San Nicolo and its attached monastery have an interesting oddity - a salon frescoed by Tommaso di Modena, a student of Giotto's, but instead of depicting the saints and martyrs, he painted whimsical portraits of the friars themselves!
The charming Buranelli district was named for "little Burano," the fisherman from that Venetian island who came here to work and sell their catch. In fact, the Isola della Peschiera still houses the city's fish market. The fruit and vegetable market is in Piazza del Grano (grains, in older times). The Restera is a riverside path lined with shady trees, a nice place for a walk. There are lanes along the canals and streams to enjoy, too. Don't miss what is one of the most beautiful city gates in Italy - the Porta San Tomaso, on the north side of the historic center. The Renaissance-styled gate is on a bridge over a canal, a temple-like structure that welcomes you to town. The center relief sculpture bears the lion of St. Mark, and the gateway is dedicated to St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury.
Treviso is worth exploring; its cobbled lanes, rosy brick buildings with iron balconies and foliage will make it worth your while!
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