What to see in Rovigo? Rovigo is one of the 7 provincial capitals of the Veneto region. I went there to attend an educational tour. We first visited the Secessions exhibit at Palazzo Roverella. Each year the palazzo hosts a different and interesting art exhibit, capable of attracting people from the whole region and beyond.
What to see in Rovigo?
After lunch we met with Maria Grazia, our guide, or better cultural entertainer, as she defined herself. She really is an enthusiast gal, full of love for art and history. She showed us through the city center.
The two Towers
First the two towers of Rovigo, Torre Donà (66 meters high) and Torre Grimani (or Mozza – cut off). They were part of an ancient castle, once located here, next to a small river port. The river then flowed along the city center, where now there’s the main street.
It seems that one of the tower will be open to the public and it will be possible to go up and admire the view. Among the towers, a building called the Case Matte (crazy houses – probably artillery deposit) will host art exhibits. An art exhibit was taking place at the ancient Pescheria, the former covered fish market.
In front of the two towers, you will notice a modern monument. It’s dedicated to Giacomo Matteotti, politician of anti fascist beliefs. He was assassinated in Rome after denouncing the electoral fraud carried out by Mussolini’s men. Moving the inscription, a quote from Matteotti himself:
You can kill me, but you will never kill the idea inside me.
City of roses
Along the wall of the lower tower, you can spot a wild roses shrub. The guides association planted it, to remember the beautiful story of the city name. According to some academics, Rovigo means the city of roses. Until not a long time ago, an entire line of rose bushes adorned the main road, but it was then removed to enlarge the road. Such a shame!
The city cat
Not far from the roses we spotted, sitting on the city walls, the city cat, Rossini. It’s a red cat, who has a dedicated Facebook page. Probably this got on his head, in fact he was watching us with an air of superiority.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
We then walked towards the main square, piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. Palazzo Roverella, with its red bricks, is the one hosting the temporary exhibitions. The facing palace is the Renaissance Palazzo Roncale, hosting a precious art collection (including Tiepolo, Tiziano, Giovanni Bellini). A little further on, the Town Hall, containing a rare pieces library.
Watch out! Do not pass under the small arch on the right! It was once the place where “questionable women” were exposed to public humiliation. People of Rovigo still avoid passing there, because “you never know”.
Along the piazza, please pay attention to the toy shop, located in the former seat of the ancient pharmacy. So cute!
Behind the Lion column, the palazzo del Corpo di Guardia, former seat of the Austrian army in town.
Piazza Garibaldi is guarded by a huge equestrian statue of Garibaldi. I was impressed by the overloaded newspapers kiosk. In front of the kiosk the Camera di Commercio (Trade chamber), with an amazing hall, and the historical café, Caffé Borsa (the name Borsa refers to the Italian equivalent of the Stock Market, that once took place in the adjacent hall of the Trade Chamber) A little further, the theater. Maria Grazia told us that rodigini, Rovigo’s inhabitants (how to pronounce it? Go to the post about the pronunciation of Veneto cities), are really fond of theatre and opera. By the way, Rovigo is the city were soprano Katia Ricciarelli was born.
The so called Rotonda is actually named Madonna del Soccorso (rescue). It was built by a pupil of Palladio at the beginning of 1600, to keep a miraculous painting of a Madonna with Child carrying a rose. It seems that this image spared the whole Rovigo from the Plague that was killing half the population of all the other surrounding towns and cities. The interior is wholly covered by 17th centuries paintings and golden decorations. Be aware of the church keeper, rather overzealous. 😉
We ended our tour at the Godot (lovely name) gelateria, selling also lactose free gelato and very appreciated in town.
Vegan or better natural vegetal lunch
After the exhibit, we had the pleasure to get to know a special place, called Il profumo della freschezza, Freshness perfume. It’s an agriturismo, 15 minutes away by car from the city center, precisely in Lusia. We all would define it a vegan place, but they prefer to say “natural vegetal”. In fact they not use tofu or seitan or anything that is not local. The owner actually said they do not use any product that is not translatable into Venetian language. Which makes sense. Besides, Rovigo is part of the Polesine, an area mostly known for its agricultural tradition. Once families here and in the whole region, were quite poor. So theri meals were based mostly on veggies and legumes.
Il profumo della freschezza is an interesting place: veggies and fruits fields, an educational vegetable garden for kids, natural cuisine courses, green café (juices, bruschettas, cakes, herbal teas), a buffet salads spot for lunch (where we ate), a restaurant (only during the weekend), an outlet where you can buy their products. If you do not find something and you’re able to do so, you can go in the garden and pick your own veggies.
Their cuisine is simple, local, using only vegetal ingredients, produced in their land. Veggies, fruits, legumes, cereals, oilseeds, nuts. A crucial role is that of the herbs.
We tried the lunch buffet. The 10€ self service menu includes an extracted juice to prepare the stomach, then a salad combo, a first course (that day it was a pumpkin soup). And a second course (bread and veggies dumplings and roasted pumpkin). At the end of the meal, a digestive herbal tea. Just one rule: no leftovers. You can take also double portions but you have to finish everything you put on your plate. I think this place deserves at least a second visit.
It was a pleasant day. All the attractions are close, so you don’t have to walk much. Combined with the visit to the Secessions Exhibit it can be a day trip visit from Verona, Padua, Venice or from Emilia Romagna.
If you’re interested, you can arrange a guided tour of Rovigo and its province with Rovigo Convention Bureau (rovigoconventionbureau.com).