Posted by: Brad Nixon | February 5, 2016

Treviso: The Old City

In the previous post, I introduced an Italian city with canal that isn’t Venice: Treviso, not far to the north of Venice. As I mentioned, Treviso has a number of canals, but it’s also a large, modern city with streets and highways, as well. It’s large, with more than 80,000 people, and contemporary life runs its usual course in Treviso’s streets, office buildings and factories.

A walk of a few hundred yards from the train station puts you inside the old city walls, dating from the time Treviso was part of the Venetian empire. You’re following one of the bustling modern streets, past the shops one finds in any European city, toward the Renaissance era city center.

Oh, but you may wish to look in just a few shop windows. Let’s choose the pasticceria.

IMG_1035 Treviso Marcy Vincent

IMG_1033 Treviso Marcy Vincent

Throughout Italy, France and in every European town and city there are devilishly tempting window displays like this. Moral of this story: don’t visit on Sunday when the shop is closed, as we did.

Now I’m hungry, and it’s still hours before lunch.

Not far along is the centro storico — the historic center of town. The Allies bombed most of Treviso’s historic structures into near oblivion during WWII, including the 15th-Century Palazzo dei Trecento in the Piazza dei Signori, pictured below, but they’ve been restored.

IMG_6584 Treviso Brad Nixon

A small piazza beyond the palace gives a look at how Renaissance architects in many Italian cities saved space inside buildings rather than devote it to stairways: place the stairways on the outside:

IMG_1037 Treviso Marcy Vincent

Even in midsummer, on a day when nearby Venice was shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists, we encountered few other tourists, and rambled at leisure through the old streets of town.

IMG_6601 Treviso Brad Nixon

Once it was time for lunch, we found a delightful restaurant occupying a portion of a former mill spanning one of the town’s canals (the previous post includes photos of the exterior). What to have when seated a few dozen yards from the centuries-old fish market? How about pasta with white clam sauce?

treviso-brad-nixon-6591

I’m not doing justice to a large, fascinating place full of both historic and contemporary interest. I have to devote some attention to the 13 Century Gothic/Romanesque Church of San Nicolo. This massive structure with little space around it presented problems for a photographer equipped with only a conventional lens.

IMG_6620 Treviso Brad Nixon

The interior — central nave and two aisles — is vast and darkly atmospheric. It contains some significant artwork by Tommaso da Modena, but the most memorable paintings we saw were in the former monastery Sala del Capitolo. The large room was bordered with a frescoed cornice depicting 40 actual members of the chapter, seated at their desks in the scriptorium, copying manuscripts. The one that stands out in memory is below, and is reputedly the first depiction of a person with spectacles.

IMG_6625 Treviso Brad Nixon

Fanciers of the premiere Italian sparkling wine may find Treviso a good base for tasting expeditions, since it’s in the center of the Veneto’s Prosecco region.

Since it’s not one of the commonly-visited Italian tourist destinations, worthwhile information on the Internet isn’t easy to find. CLICK HERE for one relatively informative site.

Should Treviso be on your next itinerary? I can only say that I’d be happy to return.

© Copyright Brad Nixon 2016, 2017. Some photographs © M. Vincent 2017 as indicated, used with kind permission.

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