La Concessione Italiana, Tientsin

The Italian Concession, with a view of the Cathedral and one of the many restored villas just off Piazza Regina Elena.

The Italian Concession, with a view of the Cathedral and one of the many restored villas just off Piazza Regina Elena.

The Italian Concession is unique in history, because it is probably the only Italian colonial territory in all of the Far East.  It was established in 1901 and was governed by the then-Kingdom of Italy till 1947.

In my view, it is certainly the most beautiful of all of the concessions in Tientsin, with a very distinctive style.  It has also been the best preserved and restored concession by far, although – having been positioned like Tientsin’s version of Shanghai’s Xintiandi – it does smack of the Epcot Centre in Walt Disney World.

The heart of the Italian Concession was the Piazza Regina Elena, at the centre of which stood a statue of Winged Victory (which has been meticulously restored today), and around which stood some of the most charming villas this side of Florence.  Just off the Piazza is the Cathedral – which, being also immaculately restored and housing a museum of the Concession – is impossible to miss and the Italian Concessions major landmark.

Behind the piazza stand row upon row of elegant villas, many of which housed important politicians and cadres of the Nationalist and then the Communist party; and so managed to survive destruction.  Some of these are extremely spectacular – veritable palazzos from Venice, transplanted here.

Unfortunately, documentation for these buildings is patchy.  ALL restored buildings have a heritage plaque on them, but the Chinese text on the plaque don’t provide much detail beyond a number – “Heritage Building #57”.  UNLESS, this used to be the former residence of a famous Chinese politician or personality, in which case, it is also largely useless for me since I wouldn’t (and did not) know who they were.

All in all, however – the concession made for a very pleasant afternoon stroll, and I ended my day in one of the many lovely cafes in the area.

Winged Victory, at the heart of the Piazza Regina Elena

Winged Victory, at the heart of the Piazza Regina Elena

Lovely villa with a distinctive windtower that sat around the Piazza REgina Elena.

Lovely villa with a distinctive windtower that sat around the Piazza REgina Elena.

Other villas in the vicinity.

Other villas in the vicinity.

Villa around the Piazza.

Villa around the Piazza.

The entire heart of the Italian Concession around the Piazza is now Tianjin's equivalent of Shanghai's Xintiandi.  And it's doing VERY well...

The entire heart of the Italian Concession around the Piazza is now Tianjin’s equivalent of Shanghai’s Xintiandi. And it’s doing VERY well…

7 - Xintiandi

One of the few 1920s buildings in the area.

One of the few 1920s buildings in the area.

Villla

Villla

Villa...

Villa…

The streets around the Piazza had been immaculately preserved - and still have dozens of turn-of-the-century villas and palazzos that were homes to famous Chinese politicians and celebrities.

The streets around the Piazza had been immaculately preserved – and still have dozens of turn-of-the-century villas and palazzos that were homes to famous Chinese politicians and celebrities.

Palazzo

Palazzo

Villa

Villa

Villa

Villa

15 - Villas 16 - Villlas 17 - Villas 18 - Villas

This one came straight out of Venice or Florence and stood on a major street intersection.

This one came straight out of Venice or Florence and stood on a major street intersection.

20 - Villas

A backward glance at the Italian Concession and the Cathedral.

A backward glance at the Italian Concession and the Cathedral.

 

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About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, China, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Landmarks & History, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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