Possagno Travel Guide, Italy
Possagno is a very small community of only about 2000 residents set near Grappa Mountain. It has the neighboring town of Castelcucco to the south but it is not far from Treviso either which has an international airport.
The setting is beautiful with a mild climate and varied vegetation rich in chestnut trees and other plants, pine forests perfect for walks and rich pastures for the animals.
It is actually part of Esagno region that comprises six beautiful historic towns: Asolo, Bassano, Castelfranco, Cittadella, Marostica and Possagno.
Possagno is special among the six because of the great contrasts. It maybe the smallest settlement but it has a huge importance from an artistic and historic point of view.
When you see the picture of the great neo-classical Temple on top of the hill that dominates the landscape and the little village (I would call it) and you have no other information on the place you have the impression that at the base lies a great metropolis, with at least a hundred thousand residents. It is a logical deduction you make, who would build such a huge temple for a small village?
And when you arrive there you immediately spot the Temple from the distance as it is perched on the hill making it visible from the distance and then when you approach and see only a few houses on the valley surrounding the hill you remain astound as the temple is really huge, a person looks like a tiny being next to it.
Besides the contrast of having such an immense Temple in such a small community, another thing that surprises the visitor is the fact that the place is really unspoilt, a plain village one might think. The same houses and the same vegetation from some hundreds of years ago are still there and everybody goes by their own business, a tranquil, peaceful area disturbed only by the tourists who come here for the same thing, to see where one of the greatest neo-classical artists Antonio Canova was born, lived and worked.
He was the one that planned the Temple and set the first stone in 1819. What you see now is his dream come true and more. He wanted the temple to be the parish church for his home village and he planned on spending his own money in building it. The locals helped too denoting the fact that they were real faithful people.
The locals are also known today for their craft in creating bent tiles that are appreciated for their quality and beauty throughout the country and beyond its borders.
The Temple combines three styles, that of the Greek and Latin Parthenon and of the Christian church and sits 70 meters above the village with an external diameter of 27.8 meters. Inside you can see scenes form the Old and New Testament and Canova’s tomb. There is a schedule for visitors but you can visit the Temple during ceremony too provided that you respect it and don’t walk around to disturb.
After you have visited the temple you can visit the house where the artist was born. It is turned into a museum and it includes the "gipsoteca" that is the workshop where you can see how he created his greatest works of art. If you happen to have seen his work in your travels around the world, here you will recognize them as they are reproductions of the sketches he worked after. Here you can see how his work came to life.
He first made casts, sketches and terracotta models and then used them to create the final work. The small black dots you see on the white models are signs he used to enlarge the scale of the model. There are his working tools and other belongings. But there is a wonderful guide that will explain everything you need to know about his work and life.
Even if there are only two major attractions in Possagno, the Temple and Antonio Canova Museum, these two have made the place known worldwide as Antonio Canova is a true ambassador of his country with works exhibited all over the world.
Possagno is small and yet great, a place of great contrasts.
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