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Europe, part 4: Treviso and Asolo

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By Jamie Daugaard Contributor

TREVISO – After I left Germany, the next stop was the Veneto region surrounding Treviso, Italy. Treviso, also known as the city of art and water, is a large town in northeastern Italy, close to Venice. The Romans built this walled “fortified” city in 89 BC. Today, its beautiful urban fabric still has many historic architectural monuments.

Reminiscent of Amsterdam, Treviso has narrow rambling streets and alleys, meandering waterways and circular radiating walkways. These arteries are punctuated by large open Piazzas, green spaces that are a delightful contrast to the narrow alleys.

I stayed close to the city center and Piazza dei Signori. Meaning Lord’s Square, this expanse of daylight and open space was built adjacent to the 12th century Palazzo (palace) bell tower. The Palazzo’s streets were built on a perfect human scale, and its walls, 100-foot tall tower, three main gates and moat are all still intact. Its cobbled streets were filled with people, shops, coffee houses and cafes.

Large Bourgeois houses lined the walkways outside the Palazzo. Walking past these, I noted their signature repeating windows and arched openings, interesting chimneys, cobbled pathways, arcaded walkways, articulated wood or stone balconies, and the many clay tile roofs covered with lichen and weathered colorization.

In the Veneto region, brick, cut stucco and rubbled stone behind the stucco were prominent building materials. Timber was a secondary material, mainly visible on the interior for roof support.

I found the churches here equally fascinating to those I saw in northern Europe, but different. They have fewer openings and articulated details, but elegant colors, textures, spires and domes. Many of the domes, such as Duomo San Pietro, were made of copper and added another color to the city’s vibrant tones.

From Treviso I ventured northwest to the small town of Asolo. Another walled town in the Dolomite Mountains, Asolo is nicknamed “the city of a hundred horizons,” referring to its mountain setting.

Hundreds of years of historical construction, remodels, rebuilds and landscaping were dominant throughout the town. The architectural style tended more toward simplicity, and the sense of historic charm was everywhere. The walkways were often very narrow, with tall Bourgeois houses looming on each side—something I would see amplified in Venice.

The efficient use of limited space in Treviso and Asolo was very evident, making the interior spaces in both towns interesting and cozy. That was also the reason exterior terraces, patios and the use of the Piazzas became so dominant.

Of all the places I visited in this European trip, I was most drawn to Asolo.

Jamie Daugaard, principal of Centre Sky Architecture, received his B-Arch and M-Arch from Montana State University. Sustainability is deeply rooted in his work, which is mostly located in mountain regions with offices in Denver, Colo., and Big Sky, Mont. If you would like to comment on this article or would like to learn more about another topic, you can contact him at or (406) 995-7572. For more images of this European trip, visit

Megan Paulson is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Outlaw Partners.

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