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Faenza is a fascinating town best known as the centre for production of faience, a type of ceramic pottery that has been made here and exported worldwide for hundreds of years and is still produced and sold in the town, and the Ceramics Museum is the principal attraction.
Explore Faenza: tourism and travel guide
Before rushing off to see the ceramics museum we suggest you make a tour of the historic centre of Faenza, starting in Freedom Square in the town-centre, where the cathedral stands. The medieval heart of the town has lots of buildings of interest to see and is usually quite lively, especially on market days (Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays).
Faenza cathedral and proximity
Faenza cathedral was founded in the second half of the 15th century by Bishop Federico Manfredi to a design by Giuliano da Majano, with three naves separated by eight arches and supported by columns and pillars.
The internal decorations are of exquisite workmanship and the work of local painters and sculptors such as Ferraù Fanzoni and Pietro Barilotti.
The main altar in the cathedral, by Giuseppe Pistocchi, is of baroque style while on the vault a round ceramic work attributed to Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525) stands out as a highlight. The façade is equally impressive despite remaining unfinished.
Near the cathedral is the beautiful Portico of Lords, built in the early 16th century and facing a fountain by Domenico Paganelli (1545-1624) and Domenico Castelli (1582-1657). The Clock Tower is also extraordinary - the original construction dates back to the 16th Century, although it was rebuilt after World War II.
Piazza del Popolo
Continuing along Corso Saffi you reach the Piazza del Popolo, surrounded by arcades dating back to the second half of the 15th century.
Of particular interest in this part of Faenza are the Palazzo Comunale and the 12th century Palazzo del Popolo. Accessed via an imposing staircase this is the former seat of the 'Captain of the People' then was later home to the Manfredi Family.
Inside the palace you can visit some of the rooms that were beautifully decorated in the first half of the 18th Century by Vittorio Bigari (1692-1776) and Stefano Orlandi (1681-1760).
Follow the so-called 'Voltone of the Molinella', built in the Manfredi period, to reach Molinella Square.
The famous 'Galleria dei Cento Pacifici' is in this square and one of the highlights in Faenza: it is an extraordinary work by Giuseppe Pistocchi (1785) with decorations by Serafino Barozzi (1735-1810) and numerous statues by Antonio Trentanove (1745-1812) visible in the niches.
Following along Corso Mazzini you leave the 'City of the Manfredi' to enter the other stylish Faenza neighbourhoods along Via Cavour. These are in a more eclectic style with baroque style palaces built between the 18th and 19th centuries such as the Conti Palace and the Zanelli Palace.
In these neighbourhoods of Faenza and along Via Cavour there are a whole series of buildings of extraordinary workmanship dating back to the 14th - 18th centuries, such as the 14th century 'Great Hospital' and the Piani Pasi Palace.
Continuing towards Piazza 2 Giugno you reach the church of Saint Domenico, dating from the second half of the 18th century, and the fascinating ceramics museum.
Faenza International Ceramics Museum
For many visitors the International Museum of Ceramics is the highlight of a visit to Faenza and has a very extensive range of local pottery as well as ancient and medieval examples, tableware from around the world and also some modern art examples produced during the last 100 years by such eminent artists as Chagall, Picasso and Matisse.
Highlights include a glass stand with "Adoration of the Child Jesus" (1535) and a 16th century amphora with stories of the Old Testament, and the modern art collection.
Also in this part of Faenza is the Church of Saint Stefano Vetere, while one of the most notable buildings here is the Laderchi Palace with its frescoes of the "Salone delle Feste" from 1780. There is also a monument to Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647), who invented the barometer.
Along Corso Matteotti there are a series of palaces and churches worth a visit such as the romanesque church of Saint Bartolomeo, the Naldi Palace, the Cavina Palace and the Milzetti Palace, today the seat of the “Neo-classicism of Romagna Museum”.
Among the religious buildings in Faenza there are several churches of great architectural value, such as the Church of Santa Maria Vecchia, with a belltower dating back to the 9th Century. Another important building dating from the time of the Lordship of Manfredi is the Church of the Osservanza which contains 19th century frescoes by Antonio and Romolo Liverani.
Palace of the Jesuits
We suggest you complete your tour of Faenza with a visit to the former Palace of the Jesuits which is now home to an important Art Gallery with significant collections of paintings by artists from Faenza and Romagna, ranging from the 14th to the 20th centuries.
Wines of Faenza
The tradition of wine making near Faenza is as old as the town so we recommend you include wine tasting among your activities when you visit! Among white wines we have Chardonnay, Pignoletto, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon and Trebbiano of Romagna while among the red wines are the Cabernet Sauvignon, Ancellotta, Ciliegiolo, Merlot and Sangiovese.
See also article about the history of Faenza.
Where is Faenza?
The town of Faenza is in the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy, to the south-west of Ravenna.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Emilia-Romagna guide.