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Out and about in Cittadella

Historical Introduction

You are invited to visit Cittadella, a splendid medieval walled town near important centers of art such as Padova, Vicenza, Treviso. Cittadella shares its Venitian historical background with other walled towns like Bassano del Grappa, Marostica, Asolo and Castelfranco Veneto.
The foundation of Cittadella dates back to 1220, when Padova decided
to found “ex novo” a fortified castle in the central area of the Venetian
plain in order to protect the boundary lines of its countryside from the aggression of
Treviso and Vicenza, and also to control the local Lords and to start a policy of agricultural colonisation.

Political, military and economic reasons are therefore at the root of the founding
of Cittadella, even though this area had been populated since ancient
times: although materials evidencing the Paleo-Venetian civilisation
are lacking, it has been proven that the Romans had
been here since the II century B.C. In 148 B.C. they built the Postumia
road, an artery that runs through Northern Italy connecting Genoa and
Aquileia; parts of this road remained viable until the
XI century. Another important axes was the road that connected Padova to the
Valsugana. On these two important orthogonal axes (decuman and cardo,
respectively) the Romans rationally organised the territory with the
centuriation in 89 B.C., leaving their indelible mark on the area. The
choice of the site of Cittadella isn’t therefore accidental: it is
located on the southern borders of a large Agro Centuriato at the feet
of the Pre-Alps of Bassano. It can rely on the proximity of the River
Brenta and the resurgence belt, as well as important road axes.
At the end of Roman domination, the territory was likely under
control of the Longobards, even if sources from the Early Middle Age are
limited. Most probably a general depopulation was occurring then and the
environment grew wild, while other feudal powers developed around small
towns like Onara, Fontaniva, Tombolo, and Galliera.
Between the 12th and 13th centuries the municipal territory of Padova
started a vigorous expansionist policy and clashed therefore with Treviso
and Vicenza. The area of the middle Brenta became a theatre for wars
and the emergence of Cittadella must be seen in this context.
Between 1237 and 1256, Cittadella suffered the terrible domination of the
local lordling Ezzelino III of Romano, who had built in 1251 the “Torre di
Malta” (tower of Malta) as a horrible prison for his enemies. Over the 14th and
15th centuries the town was again under control of the Carraresi
from Padova and became a real stronghold in the territory of Padova. In
1406, just like all the Venetian mainland, Cittadella passed under the
political dominion of Venice that sent its podestà (governor). The Serenissima
(Venice) ruled over these lands until 1797, when Napoleon, during his
Italian campaign, conquered all the north. After the treaty of Vienna (1815),
Veneto submitted to Austria until 1866, when it finally entered the united
“Regno d’Italia” (italian kingdom).
Nowadays Cittadella belongs to the province of Padova, counts about 20,000 inhabitants and encompasses on a territory of about 36 km².