The Chiesa del Cristo, whose full name should be Oratorio della Santissima Concezione lies where the first Franciscan church of the town was built in the middle of the 13th century. The tradition says that the Saint has been praying there one night while he was passing across Rovigo.
The church you see today was widened and partly rebuilt from the 17th century on. The bell tower dates of 1793 and the façade of 1888.
Sadly, it is closed most of the time. I only happened to find it open on one summer evening for the African community's prayer, and I could admire its bright frescoes.
In the beginning of the 17th century, by the order of Pope, the city of Rovigo has built the Jewish ghetto, right in the central part of the town. It was completely isolated and the big wall was constructed around it, almost as an fortificated quarter. The Podesta of Rovigo didn't want Jewish culture and tradition to be mixed with the catholics. Ghetto was city in the city, with own market place, shops and synagogue. In 1930, probably during rules of Duce and his fascism, the ghetto was pulled down along with the synagogue.
Piazza Garibaldi is the second largest square of Rovigo, smaller then Piazza Vittorio Emanuelle II, but to me it is more charming. There is nice cafe-bar in the square, right opposite to the Camera di Commercio, offering perfect espresso. Too bad for me, the equestrian statue of Garibaldi was under the reconstruction works and I missed to make nice and attractive picture of a square with Garibaldi in the central position.
"Il successo italiano a Parigi negli anni dell'impressionismo: la Maison Goupil" More info here
The exhibition that inaugurated Palazzo Roverella as a museum seat after its renovation was Le meraviglie della pittura tra Venezia e Ferrara ("Wonders of painting between Venezia and Ferrara") with paintings by Venetian and Ferrarese paintings from the 14th to the 16th century. It took place from January to June 2006 and was a sensational event since it attracted around 30,000 tourists to Rovigo, something my town had never seen before.
Since then, a great exhibition has been organized every year:
- 2007: more than 150 paintings by local painter Mario Cavaglieri;
- 2008: "La Belle Epoque - Art in Italy 1880-1915". About 35,000 people visited it, more than all the previous exhibitions;
- late 2008: "Pinocchio", with paintings from the famous novel by Carlo Collodi;
- 2009: "Déco - Art in Italy 1919-1939". It marked the record of over 40,000 visitors!
- late 2009: "Il gatto con gli stivali" (drawings inspired to Perrault's tale Puss in Boots), and "Scopri il Natale" (Discover Christmas);
- 2010: "Bortoloni, Piazzetta, Tiepolo. Il '700 veneto" (paintings by Venetian artists of the 18th century: Bortoloni, Piazzetta, Tiepolo). Quite an unsuccessful exhibition...
- 2011: "L'Ottocento elegante. L'arte in Italia nel segno di Fortuny. 1860-1890" ("The elegant 19th century. Italian art on the wake of Fortuny") - a great exhibition!
You can see some paintings from the previous exhibition here
The bell tower of Madonna del Soccorso is self standing as 57m. It is project of great Venetian architect Mishele Sanmicheli (1484-1559) who was predominantly military architect, but healso designed some of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces all over Italy. His bell tower is of exceptional beauty.
Madonna del Soccorso, coloquially called La Rotonda, was built between 1594 and 1606 by Francesco Zamberlan di Bassano, a pupil of great Andrea Palladio. It has octagonal plan surrounded by a portico, very unusual for the sacral object. The walls of interior are wholly covered by the paintings by Francesco Maffei, Andrea Celesti, Pietro Vecchia and many others.
La Rotonda is one of the most attractive and most suggestive sights in a small town of Rovigo. Unfortunatelly it was under construction works during my visit.
The complex of San Bartolomeo Apostolo, better known as San Bortolo, was founded in 1255 by order of Umiliati which completely disappeared after 1436. In 1474 the noble family of Roverella invited Olivetani monks to settle down in abandoned convent. Olivetani have demolished the old structure and commissioned famous Ferrarese architect Biagio Rossetti to design and built the new complex.
The church of the complex, dedicated to San Bartolomeo Apostolo, was built in the 15th century. It has simple facade and a single nave interior plan richly decorated in a Baroque style.
In the 16th century the monastery was enlarged and the second cloister was added. In 1810 by the Napoleonic decret, Olivetani were forced to leave Rovigo and the complex fall into decadence. In 1884 the monastery was donated to the city of Rovigo and transformed into an orphanage. Since 1979 it become Museo Civico della Civilta Polesine. Nowadays it houses Museo dei Grandi Fiumi.
Cardinal Bartolomeo di Roverella spearheadeded the construction of a majestic palace in the main square of Rovigo in 1474 to celebrate the great prestige of family Roverella. They suspended construction in 1477 after the death of the cardinal and resumed some years later with many changes in the project.
The architect's name is unknown, but young Biagio Rossetti may have been involved in the project, since he had close relations with the family. The building is very imposing and looks disproportionate when compared to the other palaces of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. The rooms inside the palace are embellished with frescoes and decorations.
Since the achievement of the renovation works in 2006, the palace has been housing temporary exhibitions (see next tip).
The paintings by local artists previously located at the Accademia dei Concordi were moved to Palazzo Roverella in October 2007.
The gallery is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9.30 to 12.30 and from 15.30 to 19.00. The ticket costs 5 euro; 4 euro for people over 65 years old, university students; 3 euro for groups of adults. Schools and people from 6 to 18 y.o. pay 1.50 euro.
The new seat should give more space to the art works and be more attractive for tourists.
However, when I visited the art gallery in January 2009, I was told that only a part of the paintings are exhibited when a temporary exhibition is ongoing. This proves that Palazzo Roverella isn't big enough for stable and temporary exhibitions.
The castle of Rovigo already existed in the 10th century, according to a bull by Pope John X and a deed of gift dating of 6th December 955, that ended up with the words actvm in castro Rhodigo feliciter.
The castle belonged to the bishops. In 1138, Bishop Florio Cattaneo had the town surrounded with new one-mile long walls. These walls had four gates flanked with towers and protected with banks and ditches, in Italian fosse. This explains the name of the Chiesa delle Fosse ("Church of the Ditches").
The castle looked like a fortress. The bishops lived on a rock close to the main tower (today "Torre Donà", see next tip).
Today little remains of the castle: the walls in ruins, the main tower, the cut tower (torre mozza) and two out of the six gates of the walls, i.e. San Bartolomeo and Sant'Agostino (see tips). Between the two gates, in via Ponte Roda, you can still see one of the towers built under Florio Cattaneo, today called Torre Pighin.
The whole area of the castle has been renovated at the same time as the Corso del Popolo (Rovigo's main street) and the result is quite good. Hopefully, it will be eventually possible to climb to the top of the higher tower, as it was when my dad was a child; this could contribute to the development of tourism in Rovigo.
Tempio della Beata Vergine del Soccorso ("Temple of the Blessed Virgin of Assistance") is commonly known as la Rotonda, "the Rotunda", for its central plan (this means it can be inscribed into a circle). It is the best Baroque church and the most known monument of Rovigo.
The construction of the church was started by the Bishop of Adria, Lorenzo Laureti, on 13th October 1594, following a project by Francesco Zamberlan, disciple of Palladio's, and was achieved around 1615.
The building consists of two octogonal bodies set one into the other. The central octagon has three large windows at the top of every side; it is surrounded by a broad colonnade. In the peristyle you can see monuments and gravestones commemorating well-deserving citizens.
The inside has a majestic high altar (planned by Zamberlan, as well) and its walls are completely decorated with paintings, statues, friezes. The paintings were mainly made by local artists in the 17th and 18th century.
Close to the church, you see the wonderful bell-tower planned by Baldassarre Longhena in 1655, but finished only in 1773.
I did finally photograph the church outside and inside in 2009. More photos and tips about this wonder will come soon.
At the end of 2009, works started to completely rebuild piazza XX settembre, the square lying in front of the Rotonda, until recently used as a car park. The new square will be closed to cars. This means that it is difficult to get to the church and to photograph it from outside and explains why some of my photos look a bit crooked.
Here are the most famous monuments of Rovigo: two medieval towers (Due Torri), once part of the castle, built before the 10th century. The higher one (50 metres) is named Torre Donà and the lower one Torre Grimani. They are located in the public gardens, in the Corso del Popolo (the main street of Rovigo), but the gardens are not as beautiful. Torre Donà is populated by pigeons and jackdaws, which made it not so attractive as it would be. There is a pigeon in the last picture, maybe you can see it if you enlarge the image.
My father told me that, when he was a child, people could climb to the top of Torre Donà. Hopefully, when the current works are finished, this will be possible again...
It is sometimes hard for us to believe that our duomo is not a cathedral, but only a co-cathedral! In most Italian cities and towns that are capitals of a province, the duomo is the cathedral, i.e. the bishop's seat, but not in Rovigo. The bishop has had his seat in Adria, the second largest town in Polésine, since the 10th century. Anyway...
The duomo we see today lies where in the Middle Ages one could see the chiesa di Santo Stefano (Saint Stephen's church). This originary church was enlarged until 1696, when the construction of the present duomo started, based on a project by architect Girolamo Frigimelica from Padova. The church was completed only in the 18th century by Vincenzo Bellettato from Fratta Polésine (near Rovigo), but the dome was added at the end of that century and the façade left unachieved (it isn't so beautiful, is it?).
Inside you can see many art works, but I'll write a tip about the interior when I have visited it.
The Loggia dei Notai ("Lawyers' loggia"), better known under the Venetian name of Palazzo Nodari should have been built in 1428-29 or, in any case, at the beginning of the XV century. Behind the facade, which was remade along the following century, there is a hall where lawyers used to work, that has given the palace its current name.
The Virgin with Child located in the middle of the loggia was made by Veronese Guido Mauro around 1590. The large hall has beautiful paintings by local artists, but I have never seen them carefully and I don't know the opening hours in case you would like to visit the inside.
Apart from the facade, you should watch the arches of the lower porch, a true masterpiece of elegance and harmony.
On the left of the palace stands the clock tower typical of any Venetian square, built between 1763 and 1790 on a design by Veronese architect Pietro Puttini. Later on, the original dome was eliminated and a modern clock was inserted.
Formerly called Corpo di Guardia, it is located on a corner of the square. It was built by Venetian Tommaso Meduna in 1854. The freize on the top of the façade (fourth picture) symbolizes the province of Polésine bordered by the Adige and the Po. Above the attic there was the Austrian two-headed eagle, replaced with the Savoyard coat of arms in 1866.
The inside hosts a large conference room and other rooms are used as offices.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, commonly referred to as "Piazza Vittorio" is the most famous square of Rovigo and it has been for centuries the centre of the political, economical and cultural life of the town. It is surrounded on three sides by beautiful palaces that have always had a great relevance:
- Palazzo Nodari, seat of the city hall;
- Palazzo Roverella, the new seat of the art gallery of the Accademia dei Concordi and of temporary exhibitions;
- Palazzo Roncale;
- Accademia dei Concordi, that hosts an imposing library and was the seat of an art gallery with the most comprehensive collection of Polesan artists (now at Palazzo Roverella);
- Gran Guardia, an impressive building with a conference rooms (I have to photograph it).
In the middle of the square, you see the marble statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of the Italian Kingdom from 1861 to 1878 (third photo of this tip).
To sum up, Piazza Vittorio is the heart of Rovigo and of its Venetianness: in case you doubted if Rovigo lies in Veneto or in Emilia-Romagna (a lot of Italians don't know it), a great Saint Mark's lion gives you the answer: this was definitely Venetian land and we should be proud of this heritage!