ARQUA’ PETRARCA

Arquà has very ancient origins, as archeological finds, dated back to the Bronze Age – the period before the Atestinian civilization – witness. Pile-dwellings, huts, crockery made of baked clay, animal’s bones, and flint tools are the proof of human settlements around the Lago della Costa. A necropolis has been found at the slopes of Monte Ricco, with several tools and weapons belonging to the Euganean population, present in the area before the colonization of the Roman Empire. All these finds can be seen at the Archeological National Museum Atestino, which is only 7 km far, in Este. In fact, during the Augusto’s era, Arquà belonged to the 10th legio, one of the different regions into which Italy was subdivide, together with the Venetian lands.

During the Middle Ages, Augusto Romano lived in a castle built in one of the hills, which was later called The Castle. The first reference to the castle dated 985. After that, during the Comuni period, Arquà was a pedestrian seat of the Carraresi, the Lords of Padua. Churchmen, monks and nobles formed strict alliances, because of the possession of feuds in the territory. In the second half of the 14th century, the entire area was ruled by the Lord of Padua himself, Francesco I da Carrara, called “il Vecchio”. He was supported by the bishop, who was one of the most important land owner of the Empire. During the 15th and the 16th century, the nobles coming from Venice and Padua built magnificent villas in Arquà Petrarca: living where Petrarca had lived was the trend of the time. After this fashion, the houses of Contarini, Badoer, Cavalli, Pisani, Capodivacca, Sanbonifacio, Santorini, Borromeo, Dottori, Oddo and Zabarella remained as symbols of a wonderful past. At the end of the Carraresi domination, Arquà became a Vicaria and it kept this status even after the 1405, when the Republic of Venice took the control of the area. At that time, Arquà ruled all the most important villages of the Euganean Hills. After the end of the Venetian Republic, Arquà started to lose its importance. When in the 1866, Veneto was annexed to Italy, Arquà became an autonomous village. In the 1874 the famous poet Giosuè Carducci held the official speech for the celebration of the 5th Centenary of Petrarca’s death, mentioned above. The latest Centenary celebration took place the 19th July 1974, with a commemoration of Petrarca of Riccardo Bacchelli, one of the most important man of letters of the time.

Francesco Petrarca was born in Arezzo in 1304. In 1311, he moved with his family to France, in Avignon, where the Papacy was located at that time. His father, expelled from Florence, hoped to find there an accommodation. The family settled in Carpentras and the young Francesco started to study grammar and rhetoric. Trying to obey to his father’s will, he then moved to Montpellier and began the studies of Law. For this reason, he came back to Italy in 1320 and he went to Bologna with his brother Gherardo.

In 1326, he definitely gave up with the Law career and he returned to Avignon, where he took the minor orders and entered the Court. It is on the 6th of April of the same year that in Santa Chiara Church, he saw Laura for the first time. This noble woman, loved by Petrarca for the rest of his life, had been the poet’s inspiration to compose Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, known as Il Canzoniere, the symbol of his spiritual life.