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Area:
  • 38,23 sq. km
Altitude:
  • 24 m a.s.l.
Population:
  • 48.599
Town Hall:
  • Piazza Calderari, 1
  • 33170 - Pordenone (PN)
Neighbourhoods:
  • Borgomeduna, Roraigrande, Torre, Vallenoncello, Villanova
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Since its foundation, the city of Pordenone has always had a very close relation with River Noncello, along whose branch the remains of the already mentioned Roman villa of Torre were found. Some exquisite fresco fragments portraying battle scenes- probably among Amazons- which are among the finest examples of Roman fresco painting in northern Italy, were found here and are exhibited in the Provincial Archaeological Museum housed inside the castle of the Ragogna counts at Torre (in the same building, the Annunciation frescoed by Gianfrancesco da Tolmezzo in the 1500s is notable too).   Therefore, it is from Torre that a visit of the city should begin (without forgetting the Church of SS. Ilario and Taziano, graced by an altarpiece by Pordenone, 1519-1521), or at least from the river along which the city developed in the Middle Ages, on a longitudinal axis. From here, the historical centre may be visited walking up the street from the 16th-century Church of Santissima Trinità, an exquisite example of central plan church designed by I. Marone and decorated with frescoes by Calderari illustrating episodes from the Old Testament. Then, crossing the bridge on the Nocello that is commonly called ‘the bridge of Adam and Eve’, visitors access Contrada Maggiore from the site were the ‘porta furlana’ used to be, the ancient gate that gave access to the ring of walls from the south. The first building on the right houses the so-called ‘Pordenone’s cabinet’ (not visitable), with mythological frescoes by the artist who was the local leading exponent of Renaissance painting in the early decades of the 16th century. Moving from Piazzetta San Marco, leaving the Duomo on the right, the street widens and the Town Hall and Palazzo Ricchieri, the latter housing the Civic Museum of Art, are offered to view. The Town Hall is a 14th-century building, with side turrets to which the central body was added in 1542, a means used by the Venetians to give visibility to their rule over the territory (which was elsewhere entrusted to St. Mark’s lion). From the Town Hall loggia, the panoramic view of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is enjoyed, the long porticoed street which constitutes, with Corso Garibaldi and via Montereale, the city’s backbone. Walking northwards along this street (towards Piazzetta Cavour), the most important palaces built by the local nobility between the 14th and the 18th centuries may be seen, most of which were decorated with frescoes on the front, first among all Palazzo Mantica, whose allegorical scenes were attributed to Pordenone (early 16th century), or Casa dei Capitani, the Captains’ House, decorated with fake rustication. Complex stone gargoyles decorate instead the 17th-century façade of Palazzo Gregoris.   Turning right into Vicolo dell’Ospedale Vecchio you end up at Piazza della Motta, where the former monastery of St. Francis is: now used for exhibitions, the building preserves 14th- to 17th-century frescoes in the cloister and church. Just a few steps away is the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (popularly called del Cristo), which preserves inside a considerable number of 14thcentury fresco fragments, a painting of Santa Barbara by Gianfrancesco da Tolmezzo (1500 ca.) and the early 15thcentury wooden Crucifix that gives the church its popular name. Walking back on the Corso, the front of the former Teatro della Concordia by G.B. Bassi (1826-1831) can be seen; walking on northwards, Piazzetta Cavour leads into Corso Garibaldi, on whose initial stretch Palazzo Pera and Palazzo Sbrojavacca front, the latter being the seat of the Provincial Board, decorated inside with 18th-century stuccoes and frescoes, though the buildings date back to at least the early 16th century, according to the recently discovered façade frescoes (among which fragments of a confraternity’s procession attributed to Gianfrancesco da Tolmezzo and his studio). Not far away, the bell tower of the Church of San Giorgio enlivens the Neoclassical front of the church, being an impressive Doric column designed by G. B. Bassi on top of which the statue of St. George stands. Inside is an altarpiece by G. Narvesa (17th century). If instead you turn right from Piazzetta Cavour, once you cross the wide Piazza XX Settembre the most interesting piece of modern architecture in the city is offered to view: the Church of Beato Odorico (1990) in viale della Libertà, designed by Mario Botta, whose conical covering of the hall replicates towards the top the brightness of the access four-sided portico. Inside, the painting on wood of Virgin with Child is attributed to the inner circle of Gentile da Fabriano’s collaborators. Finally, to complete the review of religious buildings, mention must be made of the early 20thcentury Neo-Gothic Church of Madonna delle Grazie, decorated inside with wall paintings by T. Donadon, and of the Church of San Francesco (1972-1974) in the cemetery, by Varnier and Gresleri. Interesting examples of 20th-century architecture are also the complex of Centro Attività Pastorali in via Revedole, designed by Othmar Barth (1988), the battered former Casa del Balilla by C. Scoccimarro (1935-1936, almost unrecognisable from the dynamic rationalism of its original forms), and the controversial office district built in 1970 on a design by G. Valle at the expense of the historic Galvani factory and most of Parco Querini-Valdevit, the latter including a markedly Neo-Gothic manor house set against a landscape of ponds and winding paths. Among the parks of the city, at least two must be mentioned: Parco Galvani, and the Parco San Valentino, from which the network of irrigation ditches characterising the historical centre until the early 20th century departs southwards. Also the churches in the neighbourhoods just outside the city centre boast a rich artistic tradition, such as the Church of San Lorenzo at Roraigrande, a sober Neo-Gothic building designed by D. Rupolo, which has a stone font by Donato and Alvise Casella (1558-1559), paintings by M. Grigoletti (19th cent.) and most of all frescoes by Pordenone (1516-1517) on the ceiling of the side chapel, which used to be the choir of the Renaissance church. Calderari instead frescoed the oratory of S. Bernardino (mid-16th century), an annexe to the 16thcentury villa Policreti-Brugnera, as well as the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Parish Church of SS. Ruperto and Leonardo at Vallenoncello (1530 ca.), where a Virgin with Child among SS. Sebastiano, Ruperto, Leonardo and Rocco by Pordenone (1513-1514 ca.) is also preserved, the latter showing the influence of early 16th-century Venetian painting in which volumes are more and more entrusted to light and colour and landscape projection opens in the background. Padua’s early 15th-century influence is clearly detectable instead in the apsidiole of the oratory of Corpo di Cristo (in the town square), where Doctors of the Church (mid-16th century) combine the Renaissance plasticity of figures with the late-Gothic decorative frenzy of the background. On the walls are frescoes by Pietro Gorizio. The rural church of San Leonardo in Sylvis (that is reached by taking a country path along the Pordenone-Oderzo state road) preserves fragments of 14th-17th centuries frescoes. The last stop is Villanova, where the Church of Sant’Ulderico is definitely worth a visit: inside, apart from the stone altar by G.A. Pilacorte (1520), frescoes by Pordenone (1514) in the choir ceiling show the Doctors of the Church with the Evangelists and Prophets at the apex of the webs, the Incoronation of the Virgin with Angel Musicians and Christ in front of Pilate on the walls, and fragments of the Annunciation on the arcosanto (sacred arch). Figures as that of Prophet Jeremiah, or the characters of the Flagellation witness the temerity of painting canons destined to stand out well beyond regional borders.

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