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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

p123 Faenza

Faenza (anc. Faventia), a town and episcopal see of Emilia, Italy, in the province of Ravenna, from which it is 31 m. SW by rail, 110 ft. above sea-level. It is 31 m. SE of Bologna by rail, on the line from Bologna to Rimini, and it is the junction of a line to Florence through the Apennines. Pop. (1901) 21,809 (town), 39,757 (comune).a The town is surrounded by walls which date from 1456. The cathedral of S. Costanzo stands in the spacious Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in the centre of the town. It was begun in 1474 by Giuliano da Maiano; the façade is, however, incomplete. In the interior is the beautiful early Renaissance tomb of S. Savinus with reliefs showing scenes from his life, of fine and fresh execution, by Benedetto da Maiano; and later tombs by P. Bariloto, a local sculptor. Opposite the cathedral is a fountain with bronze ornamentation of 1583‑1621. The clock tower alongside the cathedral belongs to the 17th century. Beyond it is the Palazzo Comunale, formerly the residence of the Manfredi, but entirely reconstructed. The other churches of the town have been mostly restored, but S. Michele (and the Palazzo Manfredi opposite it) are fine early Renaissance buildings in brickwork. The municipal art gallery contains an altar-piece by Girolamo da Treviso (who also painted a fresco in the Chiesa della Commenda), a wooden St. Jerome by Donatello, and a bust of the young St. John by Antonio Rossellino (?), and some fine specimens of majolica, a variety of which, faience, takes its name from the town. It was largely manufactured in the 15th and 16th centuries, and the industry has been revived in modern times with success.

The ancient Faventia, on the Via Aemilia, was obviously from its name founded by the Romans and had the citizenship before the Social War. It was the scene of the defeat of C. Papirius Carbo and C. Norbanus by Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius in 82 B.C. In the census of Vespasian a woman of Faventia is said to have given her age as 135. Pliny speaks of the whiteness of its linen, and the productiveness of its vines is mentioned. It is noticeable that some of the fields in the territory of the ancient Faventia still preserve the exact size of the ancient Roman centuria of 200 iugeri (E. Bormann in Corp. Inscr. Lat. XI, Berlin, 1888, p121). When the exarchate was established, the town became part of it, and in 748 it was taken by Liutprand. Desiderius gave it to the church with the duchy of Ferrara. In the 11th century it began to increase in importance. In the wars of the 12th and 13th centuries it at first took the imperial side, but in 1240 it stood a long siege from Frederick II and was only taken after eight months. After further struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, the Manfredi made themselves masters of the place early in the 14th century, and remained in power until 1501, when the town was taken by Caesar Borgia and the last legitimate members of the house of the Manfredi were drowned in the Tiber;b and, after falling for a few years into the hands of the Venetians, it became a part of the states of the church in 1509.

[T. As.]


Thayer's Notes:

a In 2003, the official census figures gave Faenza 53,981 inhabitants.

b This bit of writing should not leave you with the impression that Faenza has anything to do with the Tiber. Faenza is on the Lamone, a small river that empties into the Adriatic to the NE; the Tiber is of course the river of Rome, flowing SW into the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the aqueous dissolution of the Manfredi family was many miles from Faenza.


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Page updated: 11 Oct 07