Tag Archives: central italy

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.

Dozza and Brisighella

Dozza

Dozza’s Painted Walls

La Valle del Senio, in Romagna, like a necklace encrusted with precious jewels, is dotted with fascinating little borghi in which history and art live side by side and which offer a glimpse of contemporary Italian life apparently immune to the demands of modernity. Two such magical places are Brisighella and Dozza.

Brisighella was founded in the 13th century by the Italian condottiere Maghinardo Pagano. The lords of Faenza began building the Rock of Brisighella a century later, which then took its final form during the lordship of Venice, in the 16th century. The borgo is formed of a labyrinth of ancient narrow streets, of which the most famous is Via degli Asini (Street of the Donkeys.) Over the town dominates the Pieve di S. Giovanni Ottavo, erected in the fifth century and enlarged between the 11th and 12th centuries. The lore of Brisighella is filled with interesting anecdotes and historical tidbits from ancient to contemporary times, and the town is perfect for leisurely walks – distances are short, the streets are well-kept, the traffic is minimal, opportunities for gelati and cappuccini abound. A local guide with detailed knowledge is available and will add immensely to the understanding of the town.

Dozza, another little artistic jewel, is only a few kilometers from Brisighella and is known for two things: one is the Rocca Sforzesca, built by Caterina Sforza in the late Quattrocento and later used as a palazzo signorile. The borgo itself is of ancient origin, probably founded by the Gauls well before the Roman conquest. The Rock is powerful, massive, and was inhabited by the descendants of the Malvezzi, lords during the Renaissance, until 1960. Today the Rock houses a museum and a sophisticated wine bar in which all manner of local wines can be tasted and purchased.