Montecchio Maggiore ItalyJust 70 km east of Lake Garda, beyond Verona, is the lovely Montecchio Maggiore. This area has been inhabited since the Stone Age and has been invaded and occupied many times. The current population of this spacious town is just 21,000.
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The main sight to see when visiting this typical north Italian town are the two castles which were built around 975. They are believed to be the inspiration for the Romeo and Juliet legend. The Castle Bellaguardia is called the Castle of Juliet and the Castello della Villa is known as the Castle of Romeo. The tragic love story was first written in 1552 by Luigi del Port of Vicenza and later retold by Shakespeare. There is an annual Romeo and Juliet Festival held here on May 1st each year.
Some of the sights to look out for in Montecchio Maggiore are the Villa Cordellina Lombardi which is a fabulous example of neo-Palladian architecture by architect Giorgio Massari. It has impressive frescoes by Tiepolo.
The Old Cathedral is easy to identify with its rotunda shape. The Duomo Vecchio was built in the 11th century and is full of beautiful paintings of the Assumption and other works by Alessandro Bonvicino. In contrast, the Duomo Nuovo or new Cathedral was built between 1604 and 1825. It was begun by the great architect Palladio and completed by Giovanni Battista Lantana. More traditional in design, with a cupola, it again has a fine collection of frescoes inside.
The towns Museum Zannato was only founded in 1922 by Giuseppe Zannato, its first curator. It holds some interesting archaeological and paleontological finds including materials found in the late Roman-era necropolis of Carpanè. The Museum also has an interesting gemological section.
The area around Montecchio Maggiore is beautiful with rolling wooded hills and vineyards set with prosperous-looking mellow stone buildings and typical red roofs. It makes a delightful place to walk or explore at a leisurely pace in the car. Slightly off the usual tourist beat, it is quiet place to find and enjoy the real Italy. The area is well known for its wine production, including Valpollicella which would make a great souvenir of your day.
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