Monselice, one of those renowned medieval walled towns of the Veneto region, is situated in a strategic position where the Euganean Hills meet a vast plain with inland waterways that originally led straight to the Adriatic Sea. There is almost nothing left now of its 14th-century town walls, which fell into ruin after losing their military function. Nevertheless, many other historic buildings still remain and bear witness to the town’s long and fabulous history.
Archaeological finds confirm that the area around Monselice had already been visited and settled by nomadic people by the third millennium BC. Historians suggest, however, that the town itself was only established in Roman times and developed during the Byzantine period, when the first fortification was built. Paolo Diacono, the ancient historian and writer of Lombard origin, first named Monselice in his work “The History of the Lombards”. Later the town fell under the control of the rulers of Padua - Ezzelino da Romano and the Carraresi family - who built important fortifications there, including the Mastio Federiciano (the keep of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia), the castle, the Civic Tower and a system of concentric town walls. After this, during the 1400s, Monselice fell under the domination of the Venetian Republic (or Serenissima as it was known) and would remain controlled by it for the four centuries that followed.
Vivid and dynamic, modern Monselice offers visitors a great deal. From exciting sightseeing to stunning countryside, from local gastronomic delights to amazing cultural festivals, Monselice has it all.
To explore Monselice’s major landmarks, The Piazza Mazzini, the hub of the ancient town, provides a good starting point. The square is named after an eminent Italian politician, Giuseppe Mazzini, who fought to make Italy united and independent.
The western side of the square is bound by a large stretch of the ancient town walls, crowned with Guelph battlements, and the tall Civic Tower. These were built by Ezzelino da Romano during the 13th century. The tower bears the town’s coat of arms, situated beneath a clock and a triple arcade loggia in its upper level houses a valuable Gothic bell, cast in bronze in the 15th century. Should you climb the 89 steps to the top, you will see the clock mechanism at work and profit from a stunning view of the town.
On the east side of the square stand important historic buildings, including an elegant 15th-century palace - Palazzo della Loggetta, the famous fountain of Mario Botta and the Monumental Complex of San Paolo. The Palazzo della Loggetta once housed the local Monte di Pietà (a charity that loaned money to the poor) and one of its notable features is its 17th-century "loggia", or open corridors, decorated with Doric columns. The ancient church of San Paolo today holds archaeological artefacts from Monselice and its surrounding area spanning the period from prehistory to the early Middle Ages as well as a fresco depicting San Francesco d’Assisi, considered to be the most ancient painting of him found in the whole of Veneto.