The History of Arquà 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.
Arquà and Francesco Petrarca
It is believed that Francesco Petrarca went to Arquà for the first time in 1364, while he was in Abano for thermal cures. Then, in 1369, Francesco il Vecchio gave him a piece of land in Arquà, where he decided to stay. In the same year, he supervised the renovation works of the house, where he started to live the year after. Arquà has been described by the poet as rich of green vegetation and full of peace. This place recalled him his beloved place of origin: the Tuscany..
Important People from Arquà during Petrarca’s time
It is important to mention the notaries Marsilio and Domenico; Giovanni, the attorney of Nicolò and Marsilio da Carrara; Bellengerio, member of the College of the Judges of Padua, who became doctor in 1361. One of the most important families of Arquà was the Paradisi, to which belonged Bonomo Paradisi, priest in the Cathedral of Padua, at the service of the bishop Ildebrandino Conti, one of Petrarca's friends. It is important to remember Paradisi's sisters as well, Antonia and Mattiola, who were nuns in Sant'Agnese di Gubbio: the priest left to them and to its numerous relatives his lands in Arquà.Also the most important person coming from Arquà belonged to the Paradis’s family: Jacopo d’Arquà, a doctor. He was known for the novelty of his methods and for his courage. He was named “artis medicine professor” and was a colleague of Giovanni Dondi dall’Orologio, a friend of Petrarca. For this reason, we may affirm that Jacopo and the poet probably knew each other