Carpi and Fossoli

A Day for History: from the Renaissance to the Second World War

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Lovers of Renaissance art and history buffs interested in both old and more recent world events.

This one-day itinerary allows visitors to discover Carpi, whose significant cultural and historical heritage has made it known as the “Pearl of the Renaissance.” 

Moving on to more recent history: the Fossoli area, near Carpi, played an important role in the tragic deportation of Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

  • Length
    24 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - Piazza Martiri Carpi

    Our tour begins in Piazza Martiri in the old-town center of Carpi. The monumental dimensions of the piazza are sure to amaze. With its 16,000 square meters (some 276 meters in length and 60 in width), it is actually the third largest in Italy. Take a long walk under the Renaissance-era Portico Lungo with its fifty-two arches.

    At one end of the Piazza stands the striking and solemn Baroque façade of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption. The building is based upon the classical and Renaissance example of Raphael’s Saint Peter’s in the Vatican and was built by Baldassarre Peruzzi in Rome, who was commissioned by Alberto Pio. Work began in 1515 and was completed in 1680, though the Basilica was expanded with a cupola between 1768 and 1770. 

    The interior was rebuilt in the nineteenth-century with modifications to both the architecture and the Renaissance Revival style decor.

  • Second stop - Palazzo dei Pio Museums Carpi

    The Palazzo dei Pio Museums overlook Piazza Martiri, and a visit to them is recommended.

    Today, the uniformity of the façade of the Castle (which is what the Palazzo dei Pio is called locally) seems to suggest that the building was designed as a single structure. In fact, the Palazzo dei Pio is composed of several buildings different in age and detail.

    Immediately inside is the Palace Museum, dedicated to the history and art of the Palazzo dei Pio and to the Renaissance court. The various rooms exhibit paintings, woodcuts, antique objects in wood, and decorated ceramics that bring the Renaissance to life.

    The City Museum is also worth a visit. You’ll discover the history of the Carpi area from the first Bronze Age settlements to the 1900s. A section organized around woven goods explains why Carpi became a capital of the textiles industry.

  • Third stop - Museum and Monument to Political and racial Deportees Carpi

    Before leaving Palazzo dei Pio, we recommend a stop at the Museum and Monument to Political and Racial Deportees, which is located inside. Here is the start of the portion of this itinerary dedicated to remembering more recent history. The Museum’s thirteen rooms honor the victims of the Nazi Holocaust who were imprisoned in Fossoli before being deported to Nazi concentration camps (see STOP 4). You’ll immediately note the somber architecture on which some of the words attributed to prisoners have been incised in red as well as graffiti inspired by works of important international artists. In the external courtyard, sixteen large reinforced-concrete steles bear the names of concentration and extermination camps in Europe. 

    You can end the morning with a pleasant stroll through the streets of the center of Carpi between Piazza Martiri and the lively Piazza Garibaldi, treating yourself to a delicious lunch in one of the area’s restaurants.

  • Fourth stop - Fossoli Carpi

    Our journey of historical memory moves on toward Fossoli, a town about six kilometers from Carpi and easily reachable. Here you can visit the camp built in 1942 by the Royal Italian Army to imprison enemy soldiers. In 1943, the structure was transformed into a concentration camp for Jews and, in 1944, it became a police and transit camp used as an antechamber to the Nazi concentration camps and to deportations for violators of the era’s so-called “racial laws.”

    Because prisoner barracks are still visible there today, the emotional impact of a visit to the camp is undeniably intense. You’ll notice that one of the barracks has been entirely converted and is today used for cultural and educational purposes.

Last update 04/12/2023

For more information

Editorial board Modena e pianura

Information offices

Piazza Martiri, 64 - Carpi (MO)
+ 39 059 649255 Opening: all year round

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