Situated in an area crossed by key communication routes for three millennia, the town rose to importance after 1123. It became a textile town under Venetian rule (1406-1796). Schio's importance in the wool trade increased when Vicenza granted a concession in 1701, permitting the town to produce "refined cloth". Later, the business zeal of nobleman Niccolo Tron improved the town's reputation even further. In 1873, a branch of the Lanificio Rossi woollen mill, one of the largest woollen companies in Italy, opened a factory here.
On the town's main square, the Duomo, the old church of St Peter was altered in the 18th and 19th centuries and extended in 1879. Not far away, Palazzo Da Schio, is decorated in the neoclassical style. A plaque on the wall recalls that a member of the family was a pioneer of airships.
On the top of the hill are the ruins of the Castello, destroyed in 1514. The church of S. Francesco*, built on a central plan in 1436, was extended by adding a Gothic nave and bell tower (1520-22). Inside the church, a fresco cycle depicting the Order of the Franciscans (15th to 16th centuries) and remarkable wooden choir-stalls (1509).
The Fabbrica alta is a large, six-storey building with 330 windows and 125 cast-iron weightbearing columns completed in 1862. Opposite is the garden (1859-78) named after the inventor of the Jacquard weaving technique.
You can get to Schio on a train from Vicenza and then hike or bike in the area.
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