Vicenza Travel Guide
Vicenza is a city with Roman roots, as it traces its founding to the 2nd century BC. However, it is best known today for its Renaissance architecture, which was designed by one person – Andrea Palladio.
Apart from that, this place also has great art, churches, and scenery – you won’t be bored during your visit here.
Start your architecture adventures in Vicenza by visiting Villa La Rotonda. Famed architect Andrea Palladio designed this country manor for retired Vatican priest Paolo Almerico in the 16th century. After completing it, many critics remarked that this home was among Palladio’s finest creations.
However, as commanding as its exterior is, this villa’s walls hide an even more ambitious interior. Within, you’ll find marble sculptures, frescoes, and a grand cupola that will take your breath away. Be aware that opening hours can vary by day – inquire ahead to avoid disappointment.
La Rotonda wasn’t the only building in Vicenza that Andrea Palladio influenced. For more background on this architectural mind, drop by the Palladio Museum. Fittingly, Palladio designed the building that hosts the institution dedicated to him.
Once home to a local noble, this structure’s hallways host galleries that tell his life story and showcase his greatest creations. Admission to this attraction costs about 8 EUR for adults and 6 EUR for children. However, you can get a better deal by buying a combo ticket that includes other Vicenza attractions.
Palladio’s spent much of his life making Vicenza a place of great beauty. But, in the late 16th century, the Teatro Olimpico was his last gift to his home city. Finished after his death, the Renaissance theatre is currently one of the last three venues of its kind left in the world.
If you’re into religious sights, climb the hill that the Church of St. Mary of Mount Berico sits upon. At the top, you’ll find a Marian shrine that also has some of the best views of Vicenza. However, be aware that the trail leading there is steep – because of this, you may want to get a bus or a cab.
La Rotonda isn’t the only villa of note in the Vicenza area, as Villa Valmarana Ai Nani is also worth a visit. Not to be outdone by Palladio, this villa’s creator had Venetian painters Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo create grand frescoes within.
But that’s not the only feature of this countryside estate. Throughout this property, you’ll find statues of dwarfs scattered everywhere. This design feature relates to a legend of a dwarf princess attended to by a staff of fellow dwarfs. When she died, her servants turned to stone, or so the story goes.
Those wanting to take in some art while visiting Vicenza will want to include the Gallerie di Palazzo Leoni Montanari in their itinerary. This building that contains this gallery was built by a wealthy businessperson and was once owned by a count.
Today, it contains artworks by various Venetian artists, as well as a selection of Russian pieces. If you want to save money during your visit to Vicenza, visit this attraction on Sundays, as admission is free.
Thought we were done with Andrea Palladio? Think again – if you’re up to see another one of his creations, check out the Basilica Palladiana. This project, unlike others he worked on, was not an original build.
After a partial collapse of a government building in the mid 16th century, a call for proposals led to Palladio being hired. He proposed a rebuild that changed the building’s style from Gothic to Roman Revival style.
Before leaving Vicenza, spend some time relaxing in Piazza dei Signori. The entire perimeter is lined with stunning buildings, and there are numerous places to eat and drink. So, take a seat somewhere and watch as the people of Vicenza go about their lives.
What To Eat/Drink
As you go from one architectural masterpiece to another, you will get hungry. So at lunchtime, stop somewhere that serves Bigoli con L’Anatra, a type of pasta. Unlike many kinds of pasta, this dish has egg-based noodles, which complement its duck ragu sauce perfectly.
At dinner, find a place that has Baccalà alla Vicentina on the menu. This meal is perfect for seafood lovers, as it features a stockfish filet cooked in milk, onions, garlic, and anchovies. Finally, it comes serves atop a bed of polenta. Have it with a glass of Soave, a regional wine.
But if you’re looking for a wine that’s more closely associated with Vicenza, have either Torcolato or Recioto di Gambellara with dessert. Both stand out from the crowd with their yellow/amber colour.
So, which one should you choose? Torcolato best suits blue cheese or other dry desserts. But if you are having cookies or sweet bread, go for some Recioto di Gambellara.