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Cittadella a Hidden Gem in Northern Italy

by Ruth Murdoch  |  June 2019  |  Italy

What a gem we found by pure chance.  I pointed to a place on the map that would conclude today’s driving and found a free parking spot that just happened to be nearby a town wall.  Getting that close to an Italian old town is something of a miracle in Betsy, our Motorhome, with her 7.5 metre (plus bikes) length.

Cittadella has Europe’s best-preserved medieval parapet walkway that allows you to traverse its nearly two-kilometre loop.

We unassumingly walked into the local Tourism office to check out the local surroundings, only to discover this was the start of the parapet walkway.

The walls are 1461 metres in circumference, 14 metres high, with 30 metre high keeps.  On average the walls are 2.1 metres thick.

An elderly Italian lady in front of me was not confident to walk out onto the walkway and look down.  I suspect she suffered from vertigo.  However, with her family who had already scarpered and another group coming up from the rear, she had no option other than to keep moving forward.

There are four gates that enter the town and twelve towers looking both inwards to the residents and outwards to anyone wishing to lay siege to this town.  One family succeeded and an invading family occupied Cittadella for 30 years.

Today the city of 36km2 and which was founded in 1220, has a population of just 20,000.  The houses and grounds are immaculately kept which surely must be more than a coincidence. 

Beautifully manicured private back yards from the residents of Cittadella

At the halfway mark there is a Siege Museum and a Civic Archaeological Museum.  The €5 cost of walking around the parapet includes access to both museums, but don’t throw your tickets away as you will need to show them to gain access here.

There is also a panoramic viewing platform at the halfway point, which offers unobstructed views of the beautiful mountains, vineyards, and countryside, as well as the town buildings.  We tried to capture as much of this scenery as possible.

The Walls Surrounding Cittadella

See how far the wall extends

Looking back to the start of the walk

I often marvel at the engineering from so many years ago.  The walls have virtually no foundations and are shored up only by embankments made from the excavation of the surrounding moat.  Initially, the gates and the moat were made out of wood and earth.  Only later was the entire complex rebuilt in stone.

The moat runs all around the walls and is fed by spring water.  From the walkway we could see large fish, probably carp, enjoying the flowing water entering the moat laying in wait for morsels to feed upon.

It’s June and already the high season so where are the crowds to spoil our photos?  I don’t know how many tourists maps Cittadella is featured on, but if you are in the area then do pop in.

We were amused to come across a small café called Motueka, which is a quaint town in New Zealand’s south island.  Unfortunately, Moteuka was closed so we couldn’t find out how a little north Italian walled town ended up with a café from New Zealand origins.

Why Were You Closed Motueka?

A bird’s eye view gives us an unusual aspect from which to take photos.  These two sculptures adorn the grounds of Cittadella.
The Andrea Mantegna Town Hall hosts a number of events and we watched as another was being set up.  This new hall is a symbol of the town’s modern architecture but is also a historic building since it once contained the elementary school and was dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II.
The Andrea Mantegna Town Hall
The Ronda Walkway is open in summer (1st April to 31st October) from Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm, then 2-6pm.  On Saturday and Sunday the times are 9am to 7pm.  For more information visit http://turismo.comune.dittadella.pd.it.

Ruth donning traditional clothing from Cittadella

Alan would have made a brave knight

For information regarding the history here’s some further reading.

Photo taken from a brochure

Feel free to PIN and read later.