Faenza

Faenza

Faenza

Of Roman origins, lying in the foothills of the Apennines, Faenza is a splendid city of art that acquired fame in the Renaissance period for the production of exquisitely made pottery which was exported all over Europe. The very name has become synonymous with ceramics (majolica) in various languages among which French (faïence) and English (faience). From the second half of the first century A. D. the city developed as an independent commune (with inevitable ups and downs), reaching the peak of its splendor under Carlo II Manfredi, in the second half of the 15th century. Subsequently, after a brief period of Venetian rule, Faenza became part of the Papal States until 1797.

Palazzi, porticoed squares and a Cathedral of pure Tuscan forms
Faenza’s outstanding architectural attractions are concentrated in the two contiguous main squares: Piazza del Popolo, lined by two spectacular porticoed wings, and Piazza della Libertà. The Palazzo del Podestà and the Town Hall, both of medieval origin, stand in Piazza del Popolo. Along the east side of Piazza della Libertà one finds the splendid Cathedral. Of clear Tuscan influence, it is one of the highest expressions of Renaissance art in Romagna. Built to Giuliano da Maiano’s design, it was begun in 1474 and completed in 1511. Opposite the Cathedral the open gallery known as the Goldsmith’s Portico, built in the first decade of the 17th century, and the monumental fountain whose bronzes date to the same period, attract the eye. The Clock Tower, in front of the entrance to the Piazza, is a postwar rebuilding of the 17th century tower that stood at the crossroad of the cardo and the decuman gate of the Roman Faventia.

Faenza Majolica: all the light and color of the Renaissance
In Faenza you can visit one of the world’s most beautiful and complete art collections: the international Ceramic Museum houses pieces from all over the world and from every epoch, from classical amphoras to the works of Chagall and Picasso, and there is a rich section dedicated to Faenza pottery in the golden age of the Renaissance. The historic production of Faenza majolica is recognized worldwide as one of the highest moments of artistic creativity expressed through pottery. The tradition was born from a happy convergence of favorable conditions: a territory rich in clay, a centuries-old history of political and commercial relations with nearby Tuscany (especially with Florence ) and great sensitivity and aptitude with regard to this art form. Over 60 workshops are currently active – most of them in the city center – and offer the tourist the chance of unique purchases unavailable elsewhere.

Art, folklore and sport in great events
In September and October international contemporary and classical ceramic art events draw majolica amateurs, collectors and artists to Faenza from all over the world. In June the Palio del Niballo, a spectacular tournament between five horsemen from the districts of the town, re-evokes the magnificence and struggles of Faenza in the Manfredi epoch. The Florence – Faenza 100 kilometres, a demanding long distance race held during the last weekend in May, attracts athletes of all nationalities. For lovers of good food and drink Faenza offers welcoming restaurants both in the city centre and in the surrounding green hills. Typical regional dishes include home-made tagliatelle, cappelletti, lasagna and strozzapreti with the rich Romagnol meat sauce.

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