Palmanova is a unique town, beautifully star shaped
. It was built in 1593 by the Republic of Venice as a military defense against Turks invasions. Therefore it was conceived more like a fortress-city, planned by military experts, engineers and architects. Since 1960 it has been declared Monumento Nazionale (National Monument) by the Italian Republic President.
Discover the beauties of this unique town. Its patron saint is the Holy Redeemer, but the most important celebration is a historical procession, with traditional costumes.
The historical commemoration
Rather than the patron saint celebration, the most important celebration in Palmanova is the commemoration of an event occurred in 1602: for the first time the flag of the Republic of Venice (to which Palmanova belonged) was raised in the square on a galley mast, by order of the Provveditore (quarter-master general) Gerolamo Capello. That was a very important day for the town, having it been planned and built a few years before to protect the region and the republic.
In the historical procession, held every year on the second Sunday of July, there are hundreds of people wearing 17th century costumes: you can see the quarter-master general with an escort of twelve halberdiers, more troops, cannons, ladies and gentlemen, the notables, simple people, flag-wavers. In the evening, the procession continues at the torches light, then spectacular fireworks. It's really impressive, especially if you've never seen anything like this, watch the following video.
The historical commemoration
Don't miss this opportunity to visit this hidden gem of Italy, at any time of the year!
Palmanova is in the Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the province of Udine. Its altitude is 27 metres above the sea level and has about 5,400 inhabitants.
How come a town has a nine-point star shape with three fortified walls all around it? Before 1500, over thirty years, the region had suffered seven invasions by the Turks coming from the Balkans. These invasions caused great damage to the area, with villages destroyed and burnt down, thousands of people taken as prisoners to be sold as slaves, the survivors left to starve because of lack of crops and livestock. Obviously, the existing defences were not good enough to prevent all this.
In 1500 Venice sent Leonardo da Vinci to Friuli to study and plan defensive works on the river Isonzo and in the town of Gradisca. Eventually, they decided to build a huge fortress, which could keep thousands of people and their assets safe. This would become the New Palma, as this is the meaning of Palmanova.
Palmanova has three main streets running from the town gates to the main hexagonal square, Piazza Grande. Enjoy this 360 degree panoramic view in the video below.
Piazza Grande, Palmanova
These streets are named borgo Cividale, borgo Udine, borgo Aquileia and split the town in three parts. Borgo Cividale is the main road with the two major hotels, restaurants, best quality shops, some important palaces and the Military Historical Museum, to remind of the town's origin. Borgo Udine has nice "osterie" (inns), while Borgo Aquileia now is less important although in the past they built a theatre there. Now still visible are the deposit of munitions, the old powder magazine and the Napoleonic deposit of ammunitions.
The Piazza Grande was originally a parade ground, now it's used also as a market square (every Monday, don't miss it!), with the cathedral (Duomo) and several palaces for the authorities. Because Palmanova was conceived as a fortress, there are only military authorities palaces, not a Town Hall: they are Palazzo del Provveditore Generale, Palazzo delGovernatore alle Armi (Palace of Arms Governor), Loggia della Gran Guardia (Grand Guard's Lodge). The only non military building (apart from the cathedral) is the pawnshop.
Don't miss the market and a nice walk along the fortified walls and a visit to one of the many restaurants and trattorie to enjoy typical Friuli cuisine!
Other important dates
May to September, every Saturday, guided tours of the historical town, with bilingual tourist guides
May: Sapori di Storia, Storia di Sapori, wine and food exhibitions, products of local farmer, market fair
June, July and August, Thursday, Friday nd Saturday night: Guarda Che Luna, notes, images and a toast in Palmanova, music and cinema in the piazza, art exhibitions, guided tours to the Fortezza, beauty contests, wine tasting
August: Exhibition and market of ancient prints, at the Napoleonica in Contrada Foscarini
7 October, Anniversary of the della Fortezza (Fortress) foundation, it coincides with the Patron Sant day, Santa Giustina
October: Fiera dei sapori friulani, wine and food exhibitions, by local producers; pedalata dei sapori; Fun fair; market fair; Non solo sposi (wedding fair)
December: Open air Christmas markets - “Palma on ice”
Enjoy your visit!
Don't miss the opportunity to visit Palmanova at any time of the year!