Near the Riviera Romagnola and at the foot of the Apennines is Faenza, the city of ceramics par excellence. Of Roman origin, it experienced its maximum splendor in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, under the lordship of the Manfredi, then becoming a reference center of Italian and European Neoclassicism between the 18th and 19th centuries.
Easily accessible from Ravenna, Bologna and Rimini and not so far from Florence, Faenza is an ideal destination for a day trip, as a break from a stay by the sea or a cultural interlude of a holiday on two wheels or on foot up and down the gentle slopes of the Tuscan-Romagna Apennines.
3 things to visit in Faenza in one day
The main historical and artistic attractions of Faenza are located in the historic center, a few steps from each other, easy to reach even for those arriving by train. Walking through the center of Faenza is pleasant and relaxing, thanks to the large areas closed to traffic and the pedestrian paths in the tree-lined avenues. And if you are wondering which are the best months to visit Faenza, the answer is all, with the foresight to avoid the hottest days.
A walk in the historic center: Piazza del Popolo and Piazza della Libertà
The glance offered by Piazza del Popolo and Piazza della Libertà is well worth a walk. The two squares, ideally divided by Corso Mazzini which continues southwards becoming Corso Saffi, are considered and experienced by citizens as a single square. On the pavement of Piazza del Popolo overlook Palazzo Municipale (formerly Palazzo Manfredi) and Palazzo del Podestà, with their beautiful arcades and arcades, while Piazza della Libertà is dominated by the imposing 15th century Cathedral, the Clock Tower (or Torre Civica) and the baroque fountain by Paganelli.
The Cathedral was designed by Giuliano da Maiano and built between 1474 and 1520. Located at the top of a large staircase, it has a characteristic rough brick facade, which has remained unfinished. Inside it preserves important Renaissance works among which the ark of San Savino (1468), attributed to Benedetto da Maiano, a wooden crucifix of 1474-1480 attributed to Giovanni Teutonico and the painting by Innocenzo da Imola stand out. Blessed Virgin with Child Jesus and Saints John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Joachim and Anna (1526). The chapel of the Beata Vergine delle Grazie houses a detached fresco from 1412 depicting Mary in the act of breaking arrows, a symbol of the plague that gripped Faenza and Romagna in those years. The veneration of the Beata Vergine delle Grazie began precisely in 1412, when the Virgin Mary appeared to a woman from Faenza announcing the end of the epidemic.
Next to the Duomo stands the beautiful Monumental Fountain, the work of the pontifical architect fra Domenico Paganelli (former superintendent of the Duomo factory). It was commissioned in 1583 and completed in 1621 as the terminal of a terracotta aqueduct that supplied citizens with drinking water from the Cartiera area. Hexagonal in shape, the fountain is enriched with symbolic sculptures: the eagles and the dragons represent the heraldic exploits of Pope Paul V, the three rampant lions and the coat of arms of Faenza.
The Civic or Clock Tower was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century, also designed by Fra Domenico Paganelli. Quadrangular in shape, with 5 superimposed orders and crowned by a dome, it presents in a niche at the bottom a Madonna and Child in marble (1611) by Francesco Scala. Destroyed by the retreating Germans in December 1944, it was faithfully rebuilt in 1953 in the same place and using the same materials. A description of the Clock Tower appears in the Canti Orfici by Dino Campana.
The square is completed by the Loggia dei Signori or degli Orefici, also from the 17th century, of the buildings in front of the Duomo, built with yellow stone columns from Varignana, and elegant early 20th century buildings featuring liberty ceramic and wrought iron decorations from the Officine Matteucci .
Palazzo Milzetti – National Museum of the neoclassical age in Romagna
Palazzo Milzetti is the most important historical building in the city, as well as the most representative regional monument of the neoclassical. Built between 1792 and 1805 on a project by the architect Giuseppe Pistocchi from Faenza, the interior decoration alone required 3 years of work to create prestigious paintings and stuccos. Since 2001 it has been the seat of the National Museum of the neoclassical age in Romagna.
The largest and most richly decorated room is the Achilles Gallery or Sala delle Feste, in whose vault you can admire the depictions of numerous episodes of the Iliad. The anteroom “All’uso delle terme di Tito”, with its characteristic black background with blue cameos in the style of English Wedgwood ceramics, and the octagonal room “Tempio di Apollo”, frescoed with scenes from the myth of Apollo, also remain etched in memory .
The ceilings of the various rooms show scenes from Greek mythology, while on the walls are frescoed draperies and columns that seem to have physical consistency. There is no shortage of refined reworkings of Renaissance grotesques, also typical of the “Raphaelesque” decoration of Faenza ceramics.
The exterior of Palazzo Milzetti is also worthy of mention, with its lush garden and unique rustic hut with nineteenth-century trompe l’oeil decorations, the work of Romolo Liverani from Faenza and his son Tancredi.
MIC – International Museum of Ceramic in Faenza
Among the flagships of Faenza there is undoubtedly the International Museum of Ceramics (MIC), which houses the largest collection of artistic ceramics in the world.
Founded in 1908 by the Faenza art historian Gaetano Ballardini, the MIC dedicates an exhibition space of 15,000 square meters divided into two sectors to the permanent collections:
- the retrospective: presents European-made ceramics from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, flanked by sections dedicated to pre-Columbian America, classical Greece, the Roman age, the Near and Middle East and Islamic ceramics;
- twentieth-century and contemporary ceramics: it collects the works of the major Italian and foreign ceramic artists.
The MIC periodically hosts temporary exhibitions designed to enhance the cultural heritage and knowledge of ceramic art through the centuries.
Find out how the artistic ceramics of Faenza are born
In your trip to the historic center of Faenza you cannot miss a stop in the artistic ceramics laboratory La Vecchia Faenza, where our ceramists will show you the ancient technique of decorating Faenza ceramics, unchanged over the centuries, and you can admire the vast exhibition of traditional majolica.
Book your free visit: we are in via Sant’Ippolito 23 / a, a stone’s throw from Piazza del Popolo and Piazza della Libertà, and we can welcome families, groups or individual visitors.