Saturday, 19 March 2011

Treviso – A Gem of a Walled City in North-East Italy

I love living in a city where men still wear cloaks - not just to accompany the 'Phantom of the Opera' style masks worn at carnival time, but throughout the winter months as an effective and stylish way to keep out the cold. The sartorial elegance of the residents is one of the things which has struck me most during my time living here in Treviso. People watching takes on a whole new enjoyment when you are faced with costumes which wouldn't have been out of place in the city 200 years ago!

Of course, the fashions are not the only throwback to earlier times. Architectural historical reminders are everywhere. Treviso has been a fortified town since the days of the Romans. Today, the historic city centre is surrounded by 4km of near-complete, ultra-thick walls dating from the 16th century. These are punctuated by three hugely impressive gates which offer triumphant entrances to the old city. The walls themselves provide a perfect circular walk to be enjoyed at any time of the year. In places you walk inside the walls, at times on top of them and only rarely is it necessary to endure the traffic noise when walking outside.

This is another joy of Treviso - a virtually traffic-free centre. You are able to walk around the cobbled streets taking in the marvellous frescoed houses, porticos, Venetian villas, old mills, and quiet canals. At the heart of the city is Piazza dei Signori - a truly year-round outdoor sitting room where Trevigiani (inhabitants of Treviso) like to meet and ciacolare (chew the fat). There are two large eating establishments in the square, a bar and a pizza restaurant, both of which have numerous outdoor tables, but locals are just as likely to be seen standing in groups chatting - sometimes for several hours at a time!

The main thouroughfare of old Treviso is Calmaggiore which links the main square to the Duomo or cathedral. The city's main shops are to be found under the beautiful porticos of this street as well as in the pretty little alleyways which lead off it.

The city is famous locally for several magnificent churches as well as for its cuisine. Sadly, if the name Treviso registers at all with foreign visitors to our corner of Italy, it is usually only as the airport which offers a cheaper gateway to Venice than the bigger Aeroporto Marco Polo, serviced as it is by low-cost airline, Ryanair. Sometimes I wish that more people would pay us a visit instead of heading directly from the airport to the railway station or vice-versa, but, then again, perhaps Treviso would lose some of its innate Italian charm if it were to become a more prominent fixture on the tourist trail.


  1. Treviso fascinated me as well from the first sight.

  2. A place where I would like to stay forever.