The walls of Cittadella.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to have been invited on a private tour of Cittadella (pronounced Chittadella). A beautiful, unique and ancient walled city in the Veneto region of northern Italy.
Living in Padova, which happens to be down the road from Cittadella, I had previously visited the impressive city but had never walked the walls before, so I was really looking forward to the trip.
Luckily, the day turned out to be a beautiful but crisp autumn, November day. Perfect weather for taking in the sea of terracotta rooftops and the rainbow of autumn leaves from the heights of the wall.
If you’re familiar with the Veneto region, you’ll know that come autumn and winter, days can often be awfully foggy and hazy, even on a bright, sunny day. So perhaps, the medieval gods were on my side that day.
City views with the Duomo in the top, left corner.
In the middle ages, Cittadella was an incredibly significant city. Because of it’s strategic location, it was used as a post to defend the larger city of Padova from it’s enemies. And, although it has passed through many hands and rulers including the Romans, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians and certain nobilities including the Scaligeri and Carraresi families, it’s rich history and culture is still very much engrained within the walls of the city.
Standing at about 13 metres high, 30 if you count the height of the towers, and roughly 1.4 kilometres in length, Cittadella is one of the most impressive and well preserved walled cities in region, if not Europe. Having done King’s Landing, oops I mean Dubrovnik, last summer, I can say that Cittadella’s walls are certainly up there.
You can enter the walls from one of four gates that now mark the entrances to the city. The Bassano (north) gate was the most important gate in medieval times as it had the clearest view across the region and was therefore the most fortified. It even had a small moat surrounding the Captian’s house which connected with the larger moat on the outside of the walls.
Carraresi family coat of arms.
On the tower of the Bassano gate, you can see the coat of Arms of Padova (the cross) and the Carraresi family. It is now home to Cittadella’s tourism office and to a small museum showcasing the Captain’s House, it’s frescoes and various garments from the time including the different armour over the years worn by soldiers whom defended the city.
Opposite the northern gate, you’ll find the Padova gate and the Tower of Malta. What once was a prison, is now an archaeological museum showcasing artefacts and finds ranging from the Bronze Age to the Renaissance. If you have time, make sure you climb the Tower for a birds eye view of the city.
The smaller gates to the east and west are known as the Treviso and Vicenza gates, and are both smaller and carry less significance than their larger counterparts. However, if you pay close attention you’ll find ancient frescoes on the walls.
What else to do in Cittadella
Aside from it’s walls, the city of Cittadella itself is a charming one. I mean, is there even such a thing as an ugly or boring Italian city? I think not! Except maybe Calvisano. Never go to Calvisano!
Wander the streets, get lost, stop in cute cafes for a coffee or spritz and browse the many small boutique shops the city has to offer. You can use the gates as a guide so as not to actually get ‘lost’.
Bikes & pretty shop fronts.
Another noteworthy stop on your day in Cittadella is the Duomo and the local theatre. You can’t miss the Duomo, as it’s the largest and grandest building in the city and is visible from all points on the wall. While it’s not the most beautiful Italian church I’ve visited, it makes for nice refuge from all the walking and is also home to some pretty impressive paintings.
After a visit to the Duomo pop into Caffe Milano and ask for a ‘mesoevo’, an aperitivo style drink typical of Cittadella. It was created by a bunch of local restauranteurs including the owner of Caffe Milano, Christian. It’s a cross between a Pimms and a Spritz Aperol.
TIP: The last Sunday of every month, the city streets turn into a collectors dream and hosts an antique market. The last time I visited Cittadella it happened to fall on one of these Sunday’s and I found a vintage Louis Vuitton luggage bag. Sadly, my fiancé didn’t let me buy it!
Mesoeva at Caffe Milano.
How to get there
As I mentioned earlier, Cittadella can easily be accessed from Venice by train and takes a little under an hour and a half and costs approximately €6. The train station is a five minute walk from the city centre
Alternatively, if you’re hiring a car then Cittadella is even easier to find and get to. It’s a 20 minute drive from Padova, and an hour from both Venice and Verona. For free parking, park at the Villa Rina car park on Riva del Grappa, by the Treviso gate.
TIP: If you’re catching the train from Venice, why not stop in Padova on your way back and add another Italian city to your bucket list. You are required to change lines in Padova anyway so if you have the time, I would definitely recommend making a little detour.
This post was a collaboration with Turismo Cittadella but as always all opinions, tips and thoughts were my own.