Discover all our proposals for guided tours in Rovigo and its province
“La terra, il cui produr di rose le dié piacevol nome in greche voci »
(L. Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, canto 3, 41, vv. 1-2)
The “City of roses”, it’s how Ludovico Ariosto in his most famous chivalric poem baptized Rovigo, a small town of medieval origin, whose historical nucleus developed along a branch of the Adige thanks to the bishop of Adria who in the tenth century had first built a castle in order to control river traffic and then a small Cathedral named after Santo Stefano. Around the ancient district and on the other side of the river the city slowly grew with new churches and with the Este and Venetian palaces that frame the elegant squares.
Following the ancient layout of the medieval walls, you reach the Votive Temple of the Blessed Virgin of Soccorso, commonly called “La Rotonda”, an architectural jewel that in addition to containing a gallery of masterpieces of Baroque art, tells us the history of Rovigo under the dominion of the Serenissima. At the center of the large altar, nestled in a cloud of golden angels, there is a small fresco with the miraculous image of the Virgin which over the centuries attracted thousands of pilgrims.
A short distance from the Temple stands the church of San Francesco with what remains of the Convent and the Social Theater, mentioned in the list of historic theaters in Italy for the long lyrical tradition to which the city is still closely linked.
Crossing Piazza Garibaldi, you reach the nearby Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, where Palazzo Roverella stands out for its grandeur, built in the second half of the 1400s for the powerful family of Ferrara to which the construction of the Olivetani Monastery outside the walls is also linked. The Palace, designed according to some by Biagio Rossetti, today houses a prestigious Pinacoteca, with masterpieces from Bellini to Tiepolo and numerous temporary exhibitions.
Leaving the San Bortolo gate near the ancient Jewish quarter, you can reach the Museum of the Great Rivers whose exhibition itinerary offers the history of the various civilizations that followed one another from the Bronze Age to the Renaissance, along the course of the great rivers Po and Adige. The series of environmental reconstructions that accompany the archaeological finds is made more evocative by the seat that houses them: the Benedictine monastery of San Bortolo, built by the powerful Roverella family at the same time as the palace of the same name in the second half of the fifteenth century. This visit is ideal to understand the history of the Province of Rovigo: a small Mesopotamia that extends from east to west between the Po and Adige rivers in the southernmost part of the Veneto.
It is a long story that begins in Fratta Polesine in whose territory remains of bronze pile dwellings were found and where more than 3000 years later Andrea Palladio designed one of his masterpieces, Villa Badoer. In Adria Etruscans and Romans founded a commercial emporium which saw the exchange of goods and handicrafts displayed in the important Archaeological Museum. The Este and Venetians fought over these fertile lands for decades where castles were built first for defense and then rural courtyards and villas for agricultural exploitation.
There was no lack of religious communities that in the Middle Ages made a great contribution to the economic, spiritual and cultural development of these lands such as the Camaldolese Benedictines of the powerful Abbey of Vangadizza in Badia Polesine or the small community of Olivetani that still preserve the Pilastrello Sanctuary in Lendinara, small town nicknamed “Athens of the Polesine” for the large number of artists who enriched their works with churches and palaces.
The history of Polesine is a story of man’s perennial struggle to wrest the land from the sea and the fury of the rivers, you can see it well in the highest banks of the houses that accompany not the waterways but also the coasts between the ” islands ”of the Po Delta. The border between land and water is more blurred here and draws a rich and ever-changing landscape, between fishing valleys, lagoons and inlets where thousands of birds come to seek refuge every year.