Cittadella is a small town (population 18,000) in the Veneto region of north-east Italy, in the province of Padua (Provincia di Padova). It is notable for its remarkable medieval fortifications – the centre of town is enclosed within a tall circular wall, studded with towers and ringed by a moat. It was constructed for military purposes by the Commune of Padua in 1220, not long after their rival city Treviso constructed similar – but square – fortifications at nearby Castelfranco Veneto.
Cittadella tourist sights
The main tourist attraction of Cittadella is a tour of the ramparts (camminamento di ronda). The high town wall, almost a mile in circumference, is in the process of being restored, and in 2004 it opened to the public, with an admission charge. At the time of writing there is still an unrestored section of wall, but visitors can walk around half of the town’s perimeter before retracing their steps to exit. On Sundays an additional stretch of wall is opened up. The walk is fairly safe, with railings provided, but would probably be nerve-racking for families with very small children. Older children should love it – but under-16s must be accompanied at all times. The walls close on Tuesdays and at lunchtime, and opening times vary according to day and season; they can be found on the ‘tourist board’ section of the town website (see links panel). Note that the last admission is three-quarters of an hour before closing time.
The rampart walk provides great views down onto the medieval town centre and on a clear day to the north you can see the Dolomites, which in winter and spring make a dramatic snow-topped background to the town. Parts of the area outside the walls and moat is sadly less picturesque: a typical Veneto scene of sprawled modern industrial, commercial and housing developments. There are four entrance gateways to the old town: one at each of the points of the compass.
Cittadella’s cathedral, the Duomo, is in the centre of the town, presiding over a very pleasant open square, Piazza Pierobon. The building’s design dates to the eighteenth century, although the facade wasn’t finished until 1913. Frescoes from an earlier church can be seen in a side-chapel. The Duomo’s most interesting paintings are kept in the sagrestia (vestry), including works by Jacopo Bassano and Palma il Giovane. You may need to ask for admission.
Cittadella is an interesting place to spend a couple of hours. It has a few typical Italian shops (lots of shoes), some pleasant bars in the central part of town, and several places to eat. A little park frequented by ducks and local families lies outside the walls to the south. There’s not a great deal to see, once you’ve walked on the walls and wandered through the little walled centre, but it’s an attractive example of a fortified Veneto town, and it combines well with other local sights to make a full day out. We visited Cittadella on the same day as Castelfranco Veneto, thanks to the connecting train.
During the last week in September there is a medieval fair with costumes and re-enactments. A small archaeological museum is open on weekend afternoons in the Torre di Malta – once a notorious prison – by the Porta Padova.
Cittadella’s tourist information office is located on the first floor of the Casa del Capitano inside the town’s northern gate, the Porta Bassano. This is also the ticket desk and entrance point for the walk around the ramparts. It would be a good idea to check the latest opening times online or by phone before travelling here. Both the Duomo and the ramparts are closed at lunchtimes.
Getting to Cittadella
Cittadella is fairly straightforward to reach by public transport, although if you are touring the Veneto you may well be driving. There are car parks outside the town walls
By train: Cittadella has direct trains to Vicenza (25 minutes away) and Treviso (30-50 minutes depending on class of train). Castelfranco Veneto is around 13 minutes away in the Treviso direction, and you can change here for travel to Venice (check online timetables for your best options, though). The railway station at Cittadella displays timetables for both Vicenza and Castelfranco Veneto stations which can help you plan connections. During our afternoon visit we found the ticket office closed and the ticket machine out of order, so we’d recommend you do some research and equip yourself with tickets in advance. The bar in the station building sells tickets for the regional trains. Arriving in Cittadella at the railway station you can get your bearings by checking a map displayed on a noticeboard opposite the station. It’s only a ten-minute walk to the walled town centre: head straight on then take a right and you find yourself at the southern gate, the Porta Padova. The tourist information office and entrance to the rampart walkway are at the opposite side of town, past the Duomo.
By bus: Buses between Treviso, Castelfranco, Cittadella and Vicenza are run by a firm called La Marca – see links panel for their timetables (orari).
Things to do around Cittadella
We combined Cittadella with nearby Castelfranco Veneto as a day trip from Venice. If you’re ambitious or are staying locally, you could fit an extra destination into your day out, perhaps the the Villa Emo, which is a short train trip from Castelfranco. This area has a lot of villas and small towns which are interesting to visit, such as the pretty little town of Asolo. The larger, more famous tourist destinations in the area are also in fairly easy reach: Vicenza, Treviso, Padua, Bassano del Grappa, Verona and of course Venice.
Useful external links
- Veneto region
- Abano Terme
- Bassano del Grappa
- Brenta Canal
- Castelfranco Veneto
- Concordia Sagittaria
- Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Lido di Jesolo
- Montegrotto Terme
- Venetian Lagoon