Reaching Noale is nearly effortless, since the town is served by numerous roads, thanks to its ideal location at the center of the province of Venice, on route 515 linking the cities of Padua and Treviso.
Noale dates back to ancient times: the lie of the land suggests that a Venetic settlement existed at one of the bends of the river Marzenego, while the discovery of a number of archaeological remains and traces of Roman land divisions seems to confirm that the area was inhabited in Roman times. The name of the district, however is first mentioned in the late 10th century, when it came under the jurisdiction of Treviso, whose Bishop granted the Tempesta family the feudal rights to Noale in order to protect it from Paduan raids.
The city is located between Padua and Treviso, at the intersection of the road that once lead from Mestre to Camposamiero. Thus Noale became a center of great strategic importance, defended by a fortress, surrounded by moats and further strengthened by four high towers and a smaller one, with closed entrances and two drawbridges. The castle consisted of a thick surrounding wall, reinforced by ramparts, moats and two towers. Inside the castle were a church and the townspeople's houses. Noale subsequently fell under the rule of Ezzelino da Romano, then returned into the hands of the Tempesta family until it was surrendered to Venice. Its decline coincided with the fall of the Republic: under Napoleon it belonged to the Kingdom of Italy and, in the period of Austrian rule, to the Lombard-Veneto kingdom.
Traces of the Past
These brief notes on Noale's past give some inkling of the wealth of history that can still be discerned in the town, which at its height was the second most powerful after Venice. Not only did it include the districts of Briana, Moniego and Cappelletta, but also Salzano, Robegano, Scorzé, Trebaseleghe, Fossalta, Maerne and Ronchi di Piombino. The town held important administrative positions throughout its history. A notarial college and academy were founded in Noale. Under Napoleonic rule the town became a Commune and, during Austrian occupation, administrative center of the district.
Let's set off on our tour of Noale. Situated at the crossroads is the Column of Peace, a 16th-century work by Paolo Pino Veneziani. From this position, two squares are visible, Piazza XX Settembre to the left and Piazza Castello to the right. The general view displays the nature of Noale's architectural and urban structure, and also suggests the essentially compact way in which its civil buildings and houses were designed. Piazza XX Settembre is interesting in its urban design, and contains a number of large buildings including the 18th-century Palazzo Scotto - now the Municipal Library and home of the Historical Archive, one of the most important in the Veneto; and the Hospital, where a church was found when alterations were made to the old vestibule. Inside is a statue of the Virgin and Child (formally known as the statue of the Fire and the Scourged) by an unknown artist, dating from the late 15th or early 16th century. Outside the church, beneath the portico, above the right-hand side of the old Hospital entrance, is a fresco dated 1661, which also portrays the Virgin of the Scourged.
Visitors returning to the center of the town will stop in their tracks at the sight of the magnificent Palazzo della Loggia, formerly the Town Hall, built to a design by the Paduan architect Pietro Businari, with fine pillars and arches and Neo-Gothic battlements. Beneath the gallery lie the remains of the Noale patriot Pietro Fortunato Calvi. The Council Hall now contains most of the greatest works by the Noale-born painter Egisto Lancerotto, fine antiques and other objects. Opposite is the nucleus of Noale's historic center, with the Clock Tower standing in Piazza Castello the "Campasso." Just inside the big entrance door is a bronze statue representing freedom, sculpted by Emilio Greco in honor of Pietro Fortunato Calvi.
At the end of the street is the Bell Tower, restored a few years ago. This also contains an art gallery dedicated to Emilio Greco, the great Catanian artist who is an honorary citizen of Noale. Here we can see Noale's original foundations, based on a mediaeval military structure, the oldest part of which is the Tempesta Fortress, a group of buildings consisting of high walls and towers, protected by a broad moat through which the waters of the Marzenego river flow. Climbing the stairs of the fortress, we have a fairly clear picture of Noale in mediaeval times, since the basic structure is well preserved in spite of later additions to the original features. Along with the fortress, the top of the Bell Tower offers a truly spectacular view, which gives a good idea of the urban layout of Noale and its surrounding lands.
Piazza Castello exemplifies the architectural style of the little town, which is characterized by Gothic porticoes and the frequent use of fresco-work, features indicating Noale's one-time allegiance to Treviso. The square now also contains the new Town Hall. It is difficult to establish the exact date of the Archpriestly Church of SS. Felice e Fortunato's foundation, but it was certainly prior to the year 1000. The church was altered and rebuilt on several occasions. It contains a valuable Font dated 1420 and decorated with paintings by Andrea Schiavoni: the altar-piece by Damiano Mazza, a student of Titian, is impressive, as are the altars, especially one in Istrian stone known as Sansovino's altar, the altar screen depicting the Assumption by Alvise Vivarini (originally believed to be by Cima da Conegliano) and the Altar of the Scourged, with the Madonna delle Grazie, the painting of St. John, St. Peter and St. Paul by Lattanzio da Rimini (formerly believed to be the work of Carpaccio); and the altar-piece of St. John the Evangelist by Fialetti, student of Tintoretto. It is also essential to visit the church of the Assumption, almost completely Romanesque in style, which once adjoined a monastery that was later demolished. The four altars are of fine workmanship and there are handsome altarpieces. There is also a valuable holy-water stoup in black bardiglio.
Art is present throughout Noale. In addition to the priceless works in the Archpriestly Church, the town boasts a fine legacy of works left by the painter Egisto Lancerotto, which presently are exhibited in the Palazzo della Loggia, the Municipal Library and the new Town Hall. Also Emilio Greco has donated a series of etchings and lithographs to Noale. Leading off from Piazza Castello is Via Ca' Matta, a small street where you find the Chiesetta del Rosario with a little church, sacristy and bell gable dating from the 18th century. At the end of the street is a bridge, which takes us to the Fortress, once the home of the Tempesta family. This is the oldest building in Noale: surrounded by water and a green landscape, it continues to conjure up images of the past centuries. The mansion standing at a bend of the Marzenego River, Villa Rossi, is now in a poor state of repair, yet still manages to convey a sense of its 19th century splendor.
Noale's outlying districts are also worth a visit. To the northeast, on the trunk road to Treviso, is Moniego, a village of unique historic interest. Up to the 18th century it was subject to the partiarchate of Aquileia, as is testified by the old parish church of Santa Maria Annunciata of 1358. North of the town center, set in the heart of the countryside, is a typical Veneto village named Cappelletta, which was certainly founded before 1185, since its church (dedicated to Santa Margherita) is mentioned in a papal bull of that year. Inside the church is a magnificent alabaster holy-water stoup from the 8th-11th centuries and a 15th-century triptych with high relief decorations in Nanto stone. Although many villas belonging to the Venetian nobility were once situated in the area, the only one still standing is the 18th-century Villa Sailer, a three-story building with superimposed pilaster strips, a colonnade with Doric pillars, a lean-to and an oratory. Lastly, to the southwest on the trunk-road to Padua, is Briana, which has an interesting 18th-century church containing a handsome altar-piece belonging to the School of Tiepolo. Villa Gradenigo, a fine 19th-century building, is set in extensive grounds.
Santa Maria di Sala
Following the trunk road south from Noale towards Padua, after a few miles we draw into the second town on our itinerary, Santa Maria di Sala, another intriguing location. Situated on the border of Venetian territory, this town is of historic and artistic importance, with lush landscape to enjoy.
The earliest settlement, of Venetic origin, probable dates from 1000 B.C. But the characteristic lie of the land of Santa Maria di Sala is due above all to Roman colonization, which was responsible for the agrarian land system known as centuriazione. This was the division of fields into one hundred square plots, marked out by rows of plants, headlands and tree-lined ditches. Santa Maria di Sala in fact presents typical examples of the Roman land divisions, which today may be seen from the roads, and which have defined the urban and architectural appearance and landscape of the area.
Traces of the Past
Arriving in Santa Maria di Sala, one is immediately struck by the imposing Villa Farsetti, dating from the 18th century. This magnificent building in Baroque style, designed by the Roman architect Paolo Posi (responsible for the Papal palaces) was commissioned by Abbot Fillippo Farsetti to replace the previous residence, which had belonged to the Salas. It was decorated with thirty-eight columns brought from Rome. It also contained a contained a large garden, botanical gardens, greenhouses, copses and a maze. In addition to the guest quarters there were farm buildings consisting of stables, a cellar, farmhouse, cattle sheds, storehouses and a mill. The main building, guest-rooms, stables, two citrus-fruit greenhouses, and the tavern are all that now remain of this enormous villa estate, which became the Town Hall in the first half of the 20th century. The Parish Church is worth a visit. Perhaps originally the castle chapel, it was rebuilt by the Contarinis between 1588 and 1806 and subsequently enlarged and restructured. Nevertheless, the most interesting aspects of Santa Maria di Sala may be seen in its outlying districts, which are of considerable historical significance.
Stigliano, situated on the Noale trunk road, north of the Muson River, is an excellent place to begin. An ancient feudal estate (1152) with a castle and rich farmlands, it belonged to the Bishop of Treviso. It later came into the possession of the Tempesta family of Noale and of the Order of Teutonic Knights. The Castle, built by the Carraresi family on the site of an ancient Roman military camp in the early 11th century, was the scene of numerous fierce skirmishes during the Middle Ages, and many famous historical figures stayed there, including the Queen of Poland, Bona Sforza in 1555, and the Duchess of Mantua in the late 17th century. The castle is a typical lowland fortification. The center of Stigliano gives a clear idea of the structure of villages in olden times, with the castle ruins, an extensive country dwelling built inside the castle walls, an old workshop (now a trattoria), the mill and farmhouses.
More intriguing spots await us at Caltana, the center of which is situated at the meeting point of a cardine and a decuman. Its name most probably derives from the Roman Calptana gens, and is mentioned in the will of Doge Giustiniano Partecipazio (829). Visitors will be interested in the Church built between 1753 and 1759 (while the campanile was erected same centuries later). It is Corinthian Neoclassical style, with a single nave: the main altar and statues of the Madonna of Loreto and St. Antony are by the Paduan artist Francesco Rizzi (1729-95), the choir stalls frescoed by the Venetian artist Francesco Zugno (1709-87), and Piazzetta (1682-1754) is credited for the frescoes in the apse. In the middle of the village stands the handsome Villa Piatti (17th century), now a kindergarten. Of the original construction, the main building, lean-to and several entrance columns have survived. Moving to the Romanie district we find the 17 th-century Villa Emo, of which the main three-story building and stables are still standing. In the Cagnan district is the Villa Moffetti-Zeno, a magnificent country home (16th century).
No tour of Santa Maria di Sala is complete without a visit to Caselle de' Ruffi, the name of which derives from the Roman Rufus, a Paduan family, and which appears in documents from the year 840 onwards. The village church is in Neoclassical style, constructed between 1790 and 1810. The main altar and two angels are the work of the sculptor Gioanni Bonazza (1685-1730), while the busts of the Virgin, St. Joseph and four small statues of angels in Carrara marble were brought here from the suppressed church of Pauloti. At the crossroads of the Noale road and Via Caltana is a famous oratory (1839) known as the "Dark Madonna" due to the color of the small wooden statue of the Madonna of Loreto. The villas, however, are the most interesting places to visit: Villa Cavanis (17th century), of which the main three-story building survives, Villa Miani (17th century) which was half destroyed by fire, and Villa Ferracini (18th century), a three-story construction with parallel outbuildings at the sides, and a family chapel which can be entered from the street.
Cultural Events and Folk Traditions
Noale is known for its numerous annual cultural festivals. These events are held on a local, regional and national scale.
'El Panevin de 'a Fifania (Epiphany festival)
Noale In Bloom
National Organ-Music Contest
Click here for a selection of hotels in the area.
Tel. 041 440233
Tel. 041 440596
Tel. 041 440088
Tel. 041 440110
Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays
Tel. 041 440448
Tel. 041 441273
Tel. 041 440172
Tel. 041 442383
Tel. 041 442930
Tel. 041 440159