Monselice and the Path of the 7 Churches

The legend of Saint Valentine's key

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Monselice and the magical Path of the 7 Churches — Veneto Secrets

In Monselice, a splendid fortified town at the foot of the Euganean Hills, there is one of the most beautiful and instagram-friendly walks in Veneto where, between a breathtaking view and plenary indulgence, there is also a romantic secret linked to the cult of St. Valentine.

The walk starts from the mural that street artist Tony Gallo created on the facade of a building in via Teatro, near the former Rome cinema, entitled “Beyond the door, your desires” which offers a beautiful view of the city against the backdrop of the famous Mastio Federiciano.

Heading towards the main square of Monselice, it is impossible, in fact, to take your eyes off the imposing fortified complex that was built in 1239 by Frederick II to defend itself from the Guelph Marquis Azzo VII d’Este. Later it played a fundamental role in one of the most legendary pages of Venetian history when in 1509 the defensive function of the hill was necessary to repel the attack of the League of Cambrai against the Serenissima.

Monselice and the magical Path of the 7 Churches — Veneto Secrets

Once in the main square, walk along Origini, a gourmet Osteria and final destination of our walk, and continue along with the Civic Tower and the Longobard Antiquarium which is worth a visit to see the spectacular contrast between the neoclassical library of Ca’ Marcello and the remains of a Lombard necropolis from the first half of the 7th century.

Going up to the right, you are surrounded by a splendid medieval pavement that leads us to the suggestive entrance of the Cini Castle (very beautiful, it can be visited inside) and continues along the walls of Villa Nani Mocenigo, with its original dwarfs, an allusion to the name of the Venetian patrician family who built it (nani in Italian means dwarfs), surrounded by the green caper plant, one of the typical products of Monselice.
The climb takes us to the Pieve di Santa Giustina, a Romanesque church, where you can admire various works of art including the Polyptych of Santa Giustina and the table with the Madonna dell’Umiltà attributed to Antonio da Verona (the original is kept in the treasury of the Cathedral).

Monselice and the magical Path of the 7 Churches — Veneto Secrets
Monselice and the magical Path of the 7 Churches — Veneto Secrets

For over four hundred years Monselice has boasted a unique privilege in the world: the visit to the Sanctuary of the Seven Churches, equivalent to the seven basilicas of Rome, which grants the Plenary Indulgence.

After the church, you arrive in the Panoramic Rotunda from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding valleys and then to the Porta dei Leoni which leads to the Salita del Santuario delle Sette Chiese. A sacred path erected by the will of Pietro Duodo, head of the then powerful Venetian family, consisting of six chapels and the Sanctuary of San Giorgio representing the Seven Churches of Rome. By privilege granted in 1605 with a papal bull, those who undertake this journey, assigning the same prerogatives as the visit to the Seven Basilicas of Rome, are still granted a plenary indulgence.

The route ends with the marvelous Villa Duodo built on a project by Vincenzo Scamozzi which opens onto the monumental stone staircase built as an amphitheater and the Sanctuary of San Giorgio which houses one of the most loved popular traditions of the Veneto.

Monselice and the magical Path of the 7 Churches — Veneto Secrets

In his oratory, in fact, the body of a certain St. Valentine martyr is preserved and, every February 14, the day dedicated to this Saint, it is traditional to go to the Church to get the blessed golden key, miraculous for all those who have a desire for love.

From here, you return to the central Piazza Mazzini where an aperitif or lunch awaits you at Origini, an Osteria housed in the premises of what was once the oldest bar in the city, now a gourmet restaurant which, managed by Riccardo Pitteo and the chef Marco Danelli, enchants, from breakfast to dinner, with delicious dishes that tell a wonderful tale of this lovely territory.

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