As its two-word name explains – ‘Castel’ = Castle, ‘franco’ = exempt – Castelfranco Veneto was originally a tax-exempt Mediaeval town. Its imposing red-brick square castle was erected on an existing embankment in the late 12th century by the nearby Mediaeval Commune of Treviso, just north of a village called Pieve Nova, on the eastern bank of the Muson torrent, to defend the treacherous borders of the territories of Padua and Vicenza.
The Mediaeval ramparts of the fortified town, its four angular towers and two towers on the eastern and southern flanks are still visible today almost in their entirety. The eight hundred years of history of Castelfranco Veneto is closely linked to its strategic position in the middle of the Veneto region, which made it a shopping-place along the routes connecting Venice, Germany and Flanders, and more generally between Western Europe and the Eastern plains.
It was home of the Venetian podestà palace from 1339 to 1797 and the birth place of renowned scientists (Jacopo, Giordano and Vincenzo Riccati), architect Francesco Maria Preti, and musician Agostino Steffani during the 17th and 18th centuries. However, what makes Castelfranco Veneto universally known is its being the home town of Giorgione (1478 – 1510) – one of the most unconventional and mysterious personalities in the history of painting and enigmatic genius of light and colour. The rampards of Castelfranco still hold two valuable jewels among the few ascribed to the Master –the hermetic Casa Marta-Pellizzari Frieze, and the world-famous Altarpiece housed in the St. Liberalis Cathedral.
Castelfranco’s double identity as a fortified city on one hand and Giorgione’s home-town on the other is documented by the fascinated , enraptured descriptions of poets, writers, and travellers who have come here from far and wide over the years.