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October 6, 2019

Italy: Sabbioneta


The interior of Galleria degli Antichi

We paused to explore Sabbioneta, breaking up the drive from Bologna to Torino. The stop let us visit the historic center of the commune of 4,000+, which was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2008. At the time there were only small clusters of tourists wandering the streets and a few residents going about their business. It felt as if we had the town mostly to ourselves.

UNESCO’s World Heritage inscription focuses on the commune’s Renaissance town planning. It is said, “Sabbioneta represents the implementation of the period’s theories about planning the ideal city.” The inscription continues, “Sabbioneta, created in the second half of the 16th century under the rule of one person, Vespasiano Gonzaga Colonna, can be described as a single-period city and has a right angle grid layout.”

Sabbioneta is indeed a neatly ordered town. In truth I’m certain that I would not have recognized its ideal Renaissance planning without the input from UNESCO. Rectilinear street plans are so common in modern cities that it is easy to forget that older cities weren’t always laid out so systematically. Sabbioneta’s 16th Century plan could easily be mistaken for a village created in the 19th or 20th Century, at least before cars were being accommodated.

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Past Sabbioneta’s general Renaissance town plan there are several interesting historical buildings to see within its historical center. These include the Ducal Palace (now the Town Hall), Teatro all’antica, Galleria degli Antichi, Palazzo del Giardino, and the commune’s churches and synagogue. None of the buildings are particularly grand or over the top, which oddly improved the visiting experience for us. With so few people and some many places to look in to there was a bit of a feeling of touring a ghost town. It was a pleasant contrast to the amusement park feel that some heavily touristed areas can have.

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Chiesa della Beata Vergine Incoronata:

One of the side effects of processing pictures long after the trip is over is finding unexpected things that went unnoticed live. In October of 2018 when I stood inside the Church of Beata Vergine Incoronata in the Renaissance commune of Sabbioneta in northern Italy I had noticed the Trompe-l’œil frescoes and took some photos. What I hadn’t realized until looking back at the pictures is that the Trompe-l’œil was far more extensive and effective than I had thought. My eyes truly were tricked.

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It took us three hours to explore Sabbioneta by foot in October of 2018.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Click to view slideshow. […]

    Pingback by Italy: Sabbioneta – crazyhippo — February 5, 2020 @ 5:29 pm


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