Piazza Maggiore, delimited and paved in brick from the thirteenth century, was replaced by the current stone squareonly in the mid-1700s. The Liston, a Venetian term, is made of gray trachyte from the nearby Euganean Hills and enriched with white stone inlaysobviously modelled onSt. Mark’s Square in Venice. The current statue of Vittorio Emanuele II King of Italy is a monument dating back to 1881.It took the place of a stone column with St Mark’s Lion, which had been there since 1751 as a coveted privilege and testimony to the affection that Montagnana’s people had for Venice.
In addition to the imposing Duomo, there are several remarkable palaces, nearly alldating back to the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Coming from Porta Vicenza, at the entrance to the square, there is fifteenth-century Palazzo Pomello-Chinaglia, which was most probably the residence of the Gatteschi da Narni, but which is believed by some to have been the home of the Pisani. A little further on, nineteenth-century Palazzo Santini celebrates the Risorgimento and the unification of Italy with its curious patriotic decorations and colours.
Next to elegant Palazzo Valeri in 18th-century taste, you can admire the refined corolla-shaped chimneys of Palazzo Zanella; on the next side of the square a brick building with a medieval appearance stands out. It is, however, a historical fake, built in 1924 after a devastating fire in the surrounding area.
Palazzo della Loggia stands in place of the ancient St John the Baptist’s church, which had an annexed home for pilgrims going to the Holy Land. After housing some Franciscan nuns known as the Pizzocchere, the loggia served as a covered wheat market and it was precisely for the trade of wheat (but also of poultry, fruit and vegetables)that the adjoining Piazzetta Grani was also used. In 1497 a pawnbroking institution for deposits and loans was established, one of the oldest in Italy, then movedto one of the most beautiful eighteenth-century buildings in the square, with the name of Monte di Pietà.
Montagnana is rich in arcades,which make walking around the town even more enjoyable. Thanks to them, the landowners, who had been building their palaces in the heart of the town since the 1400s, could show off their clothes without having to worry about dodging the carts or getting dirtywith mud or the dung of draught animals.