Castelfranco Veneto has a relatively recent history. It was founded in the 12th century by the municipality of Treviso as a defensive rampart. Its name derives from Castrum Francum and refers to the Frankish concessions made towards its inhabitants in exchange for the defence offered by the castle against attacks by the Padovans. Its red-bricked city wall is one of the most characteristic in Italy and defines the history of this small town, which for its characteristics was soon fought over by various towns and dynasties. It first fell under the rule of Ezzelino III, after which it passed to Cane della Scala, to Francesco da Carrara and to the city of Venice, under whose control it remained until the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797.
The 18th century was definitely the most favourable for the town, during which it was enriched with new works and buildings, and experienced new social and economic development. Following the Treaty of Campoformio, the town passed to the Austrians. Apart from a brief period under the Napoleanic Kingdom of Italy, it remained in Austrian hands until 1866, when, along with the rest of Veneto, it became part of Italy.
The symbol of the town is without doubt its twelfth-century castle, almost completely intact with towers and high walls which surrounded the old borough. Outside the castle, you can see the various palaces of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Don't miss the eighteenth-centuryDuomo di San Liberale, work of Francesco Maria Preti, Palladian in style, with a campanile carved from one of the towers from the city wall. Inside there is a work by Giorgione, the artist associated with Castelfranco: the Pala Madonna col Bambino in trono e i SS. Francesco e Liberale. Other works in the Duomo are by Jacopo Negretti, Bassano, and Veronese who did the frescoes in the sacristy. A visit to the eighteenth-century Villa Revedin-Bolasco is unmissable. It is surrounded by a huge garden in which there is an open theatre adorned with a statue from the school of Marinali. Other places worth visiting are the Casa Pellizzari, where Giorgione lived, the eleventh-century church of S. Maria di Pieve, later reconstructed in the neoclassical style of the 1800s, and the Teatro Accademico, also designed by Preti.
There are many festivals in Castelfranco and its nearby towns, above all those which specialise in food and wine. One of the most typical is the celebration of the Palio di Castelfranco Veneto, a commemorative historical pageant, complete with court in traditional costumes of the medieval boroughs. The Teatro Accademico has for several years held a musical season, along with a drama season of notable interest.