Montagnana: A Medieval Jewel

Italy has a unique network of small villages called “I borghi piu’ belli d’Italia”, meaning most beautiful villages of Italy, aimed at saving and preserving these historical communities. Montagnana is part of such association for a few reasons: it’s small, it’s quaint, and best of all, it has 2 kilometers of well preserved medieval walls around it.

If you find yourself in the southern Veneto region, or you are vacationing in the nearby Colli Euganei, you should check it out. It’s an easy half day trip that will let you discover a small corner of Italy, along with its local delicacy, the Prosciutto di Montagnana.

My family and I, along with our canine companion, arrived on a lazy and sunny winter Sunday to find a quiet little town, where time seems to have stopped. Montagnana has four entry gates: Porta Padova, Porta XX Settembre, Porta Legnago and Porta Vicenza. We came from Porta XX Settembre and parked right inside the walls, and noted that the blue lines parking in Via Giacomo Matteotti is free on Sundays. Since trying out the local food is always a top priority at midday for us, we briefly walked to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and found the Caffetteria Duomo:

At this cute little cafe-cum-restaurant we ordered the “Tagliere di Coppia”, a wooden board with charcuterie, cheese and pickled vegetables: all fresh, locally made and top quality. The highlight was the previously mentioned Prosciutto di Montagnana: delicate, sweet, paper-thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto that should be part of anybody’s “100 foods to try before dying” list. We drank wine, Rosato dei Colli Euganei, and a good dark beer, plus coffee for everyone, including cappuccino for our tween and teenager – they are half-Italian, after all! Including the porchetta and cheese sandwich that my husband craved and ordered, our bill was only about 40 Euro: 10 Euro/person for good locally made food and drinks is my kind of deal. Fed and restored, we took in the pleasant view of the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and its palaces and headed to the nearby Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta, a 15th century church in late gothic style with a beautiful old chapel and some 15th to 16th century paintings:

 

This fresco of David and Goliath is thought to be by painter Giorgione.

We then proceeded to walk to the Eastern wall, past Castel San Zeno (the oldest part of town, this restored castle now hosts the Tourist Office, Public Library and City Museum), and went out to walk around the Southern walls on the lawn that used the be the moat, where our dog could play and run; the small church of Sant’Antonio Abate, with some decorative elements that testify to the presence of Templar Knights, can be visited before re-entering the town or walking ahead to the Western gate, Rocca degli Alberi, and finishing the visit to Montagnana.

Should you wish to spend some time exploring the area, there are a few accommodations in Montagnana worth cheking out: Hotel Aldo Moro, www.hotelaldomoro.com is right in the center, very close to Caffetteria Duomo, which also offers some tours such as art & culture, gourmet and biking packages for a complete vacation. There is also the B&B La Villa, www.affittacamerelavilla.com within walking distance from the historical center, ideal for families and bikers, as it has bike storage and children’s cots. For the travellers who prefer self-catering apartments, check out Le Ca’ de Boron at www.cadeboron.it, Rosadeiventi (no website, but showing on booking.com) or Guest House Sotto Le Mura at www.sottolemura.com. Whatever you choose, the hospitality of the local people will make you feel welcome :-).

We are happy we have discovered this delightful little town, and hope you will, too. Let me know if you went and what you think!

Our dog enjoyed the visit too.

 

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