Vicenza

Located in northern Italy and part of the Veneto region, although Vicenza may lack the more illustrious histories of its larger counterparts, it’s nevertheless home to some of the finest architecture in the country and an area of significant cultural worth to any prospective visitor.

Previously inhabited by the Italic Euganei and the Gauls, the settlement was only conquered by the Romans in 157 BC, whose achievement was enshrined in the newly founded city’s name of Vincentia (meaning victorious). An area of marginal importance due to its proximity to the larger city of Padova, Vicenza was largely destroyed after the Empire’s collapse courtesy of the Vandals, Heruli, the Huns and the Ostrogoths. Gradually recovering from the Middle Ages onwards, the city’s history was still marked by outside interference, from the Venetians in the 15th century until the Austrians in the mid-19th century.

Absorbed into the new Italy later that century, Vicenza’s golden era has remarkably been the late 20th century, as post-World War II economic development has established the city as one of the richest in the country. Such prosperity is juxtaposed alongside a visible cultural heritage which few areas can rival, making Vicenza an underrated destination for the tourist.

Attractions

Vicenza’s incredible architecture can be largely attributed to one man, the 16th century master Andrea Palladio, whose works in Vicenza were classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. One of the finest examples of his prowess is the Villa Capra La Rotonda. Designed and constructed in the late 16th century for a retiring priest on a hilltop just outside the city proper, this Renaissance villa practically laid down the rules for much European architecture in the following centuries and, combined with the views of the countryside, should be seen.

Within the city itself, the Basilica Palladiana further testifies to Palladio’s expertise, overlooking the central Piazza dei Signori. Built between 1549 and 1614, the Basilica provides a perfect example of grand civic architecture, replete with Renaissance porticos. Adjacent to the Basilica can be found both the Torrione del Tormento and Torre di Piazza Campanile, both of which are highly impressive monuments to the city’s medieval past.

Considered the first closed theatre of the Modern Age, Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico was inaugurated in 1585 and contains a marvellous façade and interior, with the Palladian Proscenio an especial delight. Remarkably, the Teatro still hosts shows today in the summer months.

Among the many other Palazzos and villas designed by Palladio, the Palazzo Chiericati is especially important, being home to the Town Museum (covering the history of the city). However, Vicenza has plenty of other museums such as the Museum of the Renaissance and Resistance and galleries like the Pinacoteca, which focuses on Vicentine painters over the centuries.

Of the religious buildings in Vicenza, the most prominent is the Duomo. Built in the 11th century, the façade is a testament to Gothic and Renaissance styling, while the interior is filled with works from historic local artists. There are a number of other great churches strewn across the city such as the early 19th century Chiesa dei Filippini on the Corso Andrea Palladio, so feel free to explore.

If you want a break from architecture though, take a stroll through Vicenza’s many parks like the Giardini Salvi near the Via Roma and the Giardino Querini on the Viale Aracoeli.

Recently promoted to Serie B, the city’s local football team is Vicenza Calcio, who play their games at the Stadio Romeo Menti (tickets can be easily purchased). Former players include the Vicenza native Roberto Baggio, Luca Toni and Paolo Rossi.

Shopping

Local crafts in Vicenza generally revolve around gold jewellery and fabrics. For the best selection of outlets, try the Piazza dei Signori and the immediate surrounding areas.

A monthly antique market is held on the second Sunday of the month (except in July and August) in the Piazza dei Signori. Another monthly market is held at the end of the week in the Piazzola sul Brenta.

Vicenza has a number of shopping malls with department stores, including the Palladio in the SS Padova.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Being a busy city, Vicenza is naturally well stocked with places to eat. Among the local specialities are dishes like baccal alla Vicentina (unsalted dried fish and polenta). Try Da Remo on the Via Caimpenta and the Trattoria Leoncino on the Via Tavernelle for some quality local cuisine. Alternatively, the city has plenty of good pizzerias like the Vesuvio near the Corso Andrea Palladio.

The historic centre of the town plays host to a number of bars and cafés, but Vicenza also has a few nightclubs for partygoers, such as the outdoor Villa Bonin.

Tourist Information

APT Tourist OfficePiazza Duomo, 536100VicenzaTel: +39 0444 544122aptvicenza@ascom.vi.it or info@vicenzatour.com

Airport

Vicenza does have its own Vicenza Trissino Airport, but the nearest international airports are Verona’s Villafranca ‘Valerio Catullo’ International Airport (some 50 km away) and Venice’s Marco Polo International Airport (some 60 km away).

Both naturally provide international and domestic connecting flights daily to multiple destinations. Train and bus services can be used to reach Vicenza.

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