Treviso is one of the seven capitals of the Veneto region, a small town (just over 80,000 inhabitants) but in recent years it has been celebrated by important newspapers as a valid alternative to Venice. If you are passing through for an afternoon and want discover it a little better, here is the itinerary you can follow.
From the walls to the canals of Treviso
Arriving by car in Treviso, you could park in the area north of the historic center, at the former skating rink. From there you can take the short dirt road that leads to the historic city walls. What we see today are not the oldest one but they were built in the sixteenth century by the Republic of Venice, which in that period hastened to fortify its mainland cities.
In this still well preserved stretch, people love to walk, or walk the dog and go for a run. We go down the walls and walk along via San Parisio to reach the church of San Francesco, characterised by its imposing Romanesque architecture. Sometimes small exhibitions and activities for the public are set up in the cloister. Turning right, you find the bridge of San Francesco through which you can cross the Cagnan and land in the fish market area. A plaque on the building opposite reminds us that Giovanni Comisso, our important writer, was born in this district in 1895.
Treviso is compared to Venice precisely because its center is crossed by numerous canals. In his Divine Comedy Dante mentions this city as the place “where Sile and Cagnan flow”, referring precisely to the main waterways, which are here and there accompanied by mills. Following the river you arrive on the fish market island, where there is the fish market.
Break at the museum
Crossing the fish market island and taking some photos of the large mill, you will find yourself at the crossroads with via San Leonardo. Depending on the time you have available, from here you can reach two of the most important museums in the area in five minutes: the Civic Museum of Santa Caterina and the National Museum of the Salce Collection. The first is part of the circuit of the Civic Museums of Treviso and collects important works from archeology to the eighteenth century (Cima da Conegliano, Giovanni Bellini, Tiziano, Jacopo Bassano, Francesco Guardi, Rosalba Carriera and others).
Inside can also admire the splendid cycle of frescoes dedicated to Sant’Orsola created by Tomaso da Modena in the mid-fourteenth century. The National Museum of the Salce Collection, on the other hand, displays, through temporary exhibitions, the precious Nando Salce collection of over 25,000 advertising posters from the Belle Époque to the 1960s. It is one of the largest poster collections in Europe and the largest in Italy.
Architecture of today and yesterday
Returning to our route, we walk along via San Leonardo and go around the church to make our entrance, through the recently restored square of Santa Maria dei Battuti, to the so-called Latin Quarter. This is the university area of Treviso (home of the Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice) and was inaugurated not too long ago, in 2006. It bears the signature of a great Italian architect, Paolo Portoghesi. Especially in summer, the large square of Humanism is colored with activities open to the public, from yoga to folk dances.
Now take Vicolo San Pancrazio and go back to the medieval heart of the city, full of narrow alleys like this. We are therefore in via Martiri della Libertà and taking it to the left we arrive at the Loggia dei Cavalieri, another important testimony of the medieval municipality. Through via Indipendenza we find ourselves in front of the Palazzo dei Trecento, historic political center, which acts as a hinge with the city lounge, Piazza dei Signori.
The two great churches of Treviso
Never forget to look in the air: Treviso buildings were richly frescoed and still today, despite the degradation caused by the smog, there are important traces of it. For example along Calmaggiore, the ancient decuman of the city, both on the buildings and along the arcades. Even the arcades are in fact a characteristic and distinctive sign of Treviso. Let’s dive back into the alleys through via Barberia, an area full of bars and taverns where you can plan your aperitif stop, a shot or coffee. Continuing along via Ortazzo and via Avogari you reach piazza Vittoria.
Finally, we take via San Nicolò to reach the largest church in Treviso. San Nicolò, in fact, is a splendid example of Gothic-Lombard architecture. Consider a stop at the adjacent Chapter Room, where you will find the first fresco in the world in which a pair of glasses is represented, also by Tomaso da Modena. We are north-west of the historic center and taking via Filzi we face the Città Giardino district, a trendy and very green residential area. Through viale Cesare Battisti you reach the Duomo, the second largest church in the city and widely bombed by the allies on April 7, 1944. Through via Canova and via fra’ Giocondo we will finally return to the starting point.