Vicenza is an Italian city in Veneto, the city is a destination for cultural tourism. Vicenza is a thriving and cosmopolitan city, with a rich history and culture, and many museums, art galleries, piazzas, villas, churches and elegant Renaissance palazzi. Vicenza is a sort of stage where life marries art every day. Here elegance, hospitality and a touch of eternity accompany the visitor into the most refined aesthetics.
Vicenza city of Palladio: the palaces, villas, the Olympic Theater and the Rotonda are the artistic wonders of a city, a Unesco world heritage site. In the surroundings, a territory that, in addition to being a witness to the genius of one of the greatest Italian architects, Andrea Palladio, offers the visitor many opportunities to immerse themselves in art, history and the most living traditions.
The city is an important industrial and economic center, the heart of a province dotted with small and medium-sized enterprises in third place in Italy for turnover in exports, mainly driven by the engineering, textile and goldsmith sectors: the latter reaches over a third in the capital Berico. of total goldsmith exports, making Vicenza the Italian capital of gold processing.
A trip to Vicenza offers indispensable perspectives into art and history. There are several styles that characterize the city, ranging from Romanesque to Baroque to Neoclassical: the architecture lover can embark on a real immersion in the artistic beauties. It is known as the city of Palladio – due to the architect Andrea Palladio who created numerous works there in the late Renaissance – and is one of the most important art sites in the Veneto region.
The richness of the past in fact here always presents itself with new faces, but basically combining three elements: the majesty of the Roman Empire, the Palladian Renaissance and the ‘naturalistic’ environment, with the precious outline of the Berici Hills and all those green spaces that gently encircle the city.
Starting with the Olympic Theater, the first example of a modern period indoor theater, or from Villa Capra known as “La Rotonda”, a few steps from the city, the reference icon of the entire work of Palladio. Those who enter its historic center for the first time will be enchanted by the magnificence of the Palladian Basilica that dominates Piazza dei Signori. All around then stand out the period buildings, also a legacy of the Renaissance genius.
Vicenza offers numerous parks, some even historical ones such as Campo Marzo and Giardini Salvi. Querini Park, famous for the tree-lined avenue that leads to a small temple in the middle of the green, is instead ideal for jogging.
Vicentia was settled by the Italic Euganei tribe and then by the Paleo-Veneti tribe in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.In 157 BC, the city was a de facto Roman centre and was given the name of Vicetia or Vincentia, meaning “victorious”. Between 49 and 42 BC it became a Roman municipium. The restructuring of the inhabited area according to an urban layout with relatively orthogonal axes, the replacement of wooden houses with stone or brick buildings and the construction of the first walls, date back to these years. The city was known for its agriculture, brickworks, marble quarry, and wool industry.
During the decline of the Western Roman Empire, Heruls, Vandals, Alaric and his Visigoths, as well as the Huns laid waste to the area, but the city recovered after the Ostrogoth conquest in 489 AD. After the victory of the Byzantines in the Greek-Gothic war, the city did not remain in their hands for long: in 568 the Lombards migrated to Italy, conquering various cities, including Vicenza, which (according to Paolo Diacono) was occupied by Alboino himself and was probably immediately erected as a ducal seat.
Christianity probably spread towards the end of the 3rd century. The construction of both a basilica outside the walls, dedicated to Saints Felice and Fortunato, and of a city church which later became the cathedral dates back to the end of the 4th or the beginning of the 5th century. Numerous Benedictine monasteries were built in the Vicenza area, beginning in the 6th century.
After the conquest of Charlemagne in 774, Vicenza was incorporated into the kingdom of the Franks. After this period a de facto lordship of the bishop of Vicenza was established. The privileged relationship between the bishops of Vicenza and the emperors, who reciprocated them with the granting of privileges, continued throughout the eleventh century.
From the twelfth century the political weight of the citizen social groups began to emerge in the Veneto area and the Municipalities were established, which soon came to a clash with Federico Barbarossa. From the mid-twelfth and throughout the thirteenth century, families were the true protagonists of the history of the city and the surrounding area. Unlike Verona and Padua, Vicenza was dominated by rural lords who, while maintaining their fiefdom, settled in the city to participate more easily in regional alliances and struggles and built fortified houses and towers there.
After the short period of municipal freedom (1259-1266), Vicenza lost its autonomy and was subjugated by Padua which, apart from the Ezzelinian parenthesis, would have enslaved it to its own interests and effectively dominated it until 1311. Vicenza in 1311 submitted to the Scaligeri lords of Verona, who fortified it against the Visconti of Milan.
With the arrival of the Scaligeri, a new era began for the noble families of Vicenza. During the fourteenth century the number of inhabitants increased considerably. Unlike other major cities, such as Padua and Verona, Vicenza never saw the strengthening of the class of merchants or artisans, who always played a subordinate role, even in the following centuries. Until the nineteenth century the economy of the city and its territory was always essentially linked to the land.
Vicenza came under rule of Venice in 1404, the city, under siege, in order not to fall under the Paduan dominion, negotiated with the Venetians the dedication, a form of subjugation in which the Serenissima in exchange undertook to respect and safeguard most of the previous laws and magistracies through the Statute. Thus was born the Dominion of Mainlandof the Serenissima.
The Vicenza area was once again invaded in 1509 during the war of the League of Cambrai. The Venetian Republic decided to evacuate its mainland domains to concentrate on the defense of the lagoons, freeing the cities from the obligation of loyalty. The Vicenza territory was again invaded many times in the following years and only after 1523 was peace definitively re-established.
During the 1890s the ideas of the French Revolution began to spread also in Vicenza society. Defeated Napoleon in the battle of Leipzig, the Austrians returned to Vicenza on 5 November 1813. With the third war of independence the city passed relatively bloodlessly to the Kingdom of Italy, following the referendum of 1866.
Vicenza’s area was a location of major combat in both World War I (on the Asiago plateau) and World War II (a focal center of the Italian resistance), and it was the most damaged city in Veneto by Allied bombings, including many of its monuments
Since the 1950s, strong economic and industrial development has made Vicenza one of the richest cities in Italy. In the 1960s, the whole central part of Veneto, witnessed a strong economic development caused by the emergence of small and medium family businesses, ranging in a vast array of products (that often emerged illegally) that paved the way for what would be known as the “miracle of the northeast”. In the following years, the economic development grew vertiginously. Huge industrial areas sprouted around the city, massive and disorganized urbanization and employment of foreign immigrants increased.
As the “City of Palladio”, Vicenza was nominated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on December 15, 1994. In addition to the 23 Palladian monuments and the 3 villas of the city, in 1996 it was included in the World Heritage List of Humanity of other 21 Palladio villas in the Veneto area. The name of the UNESCO site has thus become “The city of Vicenza and the Palladian villas in the Veneto”.
Vicenza is a medium-sized city in Veneto, in northeastern Italy, and the capital of the namesake province. The city and the surrounding countryside and hills are particularly famous for the many works, and particularly the Villas, by Palladio. Because of the architectonic contributions of Andrea Palladio, it was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In addition to the 23 Palladian monuments and the 3 villas of the city, in 1996 the inclusion in the World Heritage List of 21 other Palladian villas in the Veneto area was obtained.
Vicenza as a tourist destination is undoubtedly linked to the works of Andrea Palladio, a great architect of the late Renaissance who revolutionized the language of construction, giving life to Palladianism, a style that had a significant influence on all Western architecture, in particular neoclassical and American. The palaces built by Palladio are all concentrated in the city and most of the Palladian villas are located in the province of Vicenza; some are a short distance from the center, easily reachable by bicycle or by public transport, such as “La Rotonda” (villa Almerico Capra) located in the south-east of the city.
But even beyond Palladio, the city offers many reasons of historical and artistic interest and as many possible itineraries: the urban plan of Vicenza itself, of Renaissance derivation; the Gothic palaces (for example those of Contra ‘Porti); the Baroque of Vicenza, which shows elegant and measured examples in churches and palaces; the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Monte Berico, an international pilgrimage destination; the numerous public and private museums, art exhibitions; trade fair events.
The cuisine of Vicenza itself offers a reason to visit, with numerous places offering traditional dishes or in any case inspired by traditional local products “at zero km”, well accompanied by the wines of the province.
In short, the city offers various reasons for a visit which, depending on the interests and the time available, can last from a couple of hours of pleasant walk along Corso Palladio, up to several days exploring the best of villas, churches, museums, libraries, exhibitions, markets, restaurants and wineries.
UNESCO Monuments in the city center
On 15 December 1994, in the 18th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, in Phuket, the site of “Vicenza City of Palladio” was included in the list of World Heritage Sites according to the following criteria: Vicenza is an exceptional artistic achievement due to the numerous architectural contributions by Andrea Palladio, which integrated into a historical fabric, determine its overall character. Thanks to its typical architectural structure, the city has exerted a strong influence on the history of architecture, dictating the rules of urbanism in most European countries and the whole world.
Begun in 1580 as Palladio’s last project and completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, it is the first example of a permanent indoor theater of the modern era and is considered one of the architect’s great masterpieces. It was completed after Palladio’s death, limited to the auditorium complete with loggia and the proscenium. Scamozzi designed the wooden scenes, of great effect for their perspective illusionism and attention to detail, which can still be admired.
The theater was inaugurated on March 3, 1585 with the representation of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and is still used today (except in winter). The scenes, created specifically for that representation, depict the seven streets of the city of Thebes and use the accelerated perspective technique to make the space appear much longer than it actually is. The theater, with the large proscenium wall, the many statues and decorations, was made of wood and stucco and was built on commission from the Olympic Academy at the interior of a disused medieval fortress. Palladian intervention cannot be seen from the outside; there is however a beautiful garden, decorated with twentieth-century statues recovered from theaters destroyed during the last war.
The Palladian palaces included in the list of World Heritage Sites are 16 and they are all located in the historic center of Vicenza, along the current Corso Palladio or in its vicinity. Three of these palaces (Da Monte, Garzadori and Capra) are of uncertain attribution, although they show an evident influence of Palladio’s style.
Redesigned starting from 1549 by Palladio, who renamed it “basilica” in reference to the Roman civil basilicas, it is the most famous public building in Vicenza and one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance architect, who worked there all his life. The Basilica is used for art exhibitions and the Vicenza Jewelery Museum (MDG) is located on the ground floor. The Basilica also houses some ancient shops at the level of the square.
From the large loggia on the main floor, and even more so from the upper terrace, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Piazza dei Signori and the city. Since the Middle Ages the building was already the fulcrum of political (city council, court) and economic activities. After a long series of failed projects and attempts by other architects, Palladio encircled theserliana, an ingenious stratagem to hide from the eye the different distances between the pillars inherited from previous construction sites. The ambitious roof of an overturned ship hull, covered with copper plates, partly raised by large archivolts and dating back to the mid-fifteenth century, was destroyed in a bombing in the Second World War and soon rebuilt. The Basilica can be visited inside during the exhibitions, built starting from the 12th century, which has remained one of the tallest buildings in Vicenza.
The majestic palace, which dominates Piazza Matteotti, was built between 1550 and 1680 to a design by Andrea Palladio as a private residence for Count Girolamo Chiericati, one of the main exponents of the Vicenza aristocracy. It was completed only a century after the architect’s death. It currently houses the Civic Art Gallery. The building consists of a central body with two symmetrical wings slightly set back, with large loggias on the level of the noble floor. The harmonic façade is structured in two superimposed orders, a solution never before used in a private city residence, with a crowning of statues. Located where the Bacchiglione and Retrone rivers once converged, the architect raised the building to avoid flooding. Metopes, triglyphs and bucranos alternate on the frieze of the lower loggia.
A late work by Andrea Palladio, it overlooks the central Piazza dei Signori, right in front of the Palladian Basilica. The town council meets on the main floor. The palace was designed in 1565 and built from 1571 to 1572 as a residence for the representative of the Republic of Venice in the city. It was decorated by Lorenzo Rubini; inside nine paintings by Giovanni Antonio Fasolo. The structure is based on a giant composite order.
On the ground floor there is a large loggia, covered by large vaults, which supports a noble floor with a large hall, the Sala Bernarda, enriched with 16th century frescoes from one of the Porto villas. The facade of the building is alternated by four giant half-columns, in exposed brick, which reach under the balustrade of the attic, and three large arches. The decorations are made of Istrian stone and especially stucco. The columns were designed by Palladio to be covered with a white plaster, playing with the contrast of the red bricks without plaster on the white of the stucco. On the main facade of the decorations represent the personification of the rivers. The name of the client, Capitanio Bernardo, it can be read in the entablature (“JO. BAPTISTAE BERNARDO PRAEFECTO”). The loggia on the ground floor, enclosed by a high wrought iron gate, harmoniously sated characterized by niches and columns, houses some tombstones in memory of the fallen of the wars.
The side elevation on Contrà Monte, worked on the model of the Roman triumphal arches, is decorated with stucco bas-reliefs and two allegorical statues placed in the intercolumniations, to commemorate the victory of the Spanish-Venetian fleet against the Ottomans in the battle of Lepanto (7 October 1571), to which the people of Vicenza contributed. The Latin inscriptions at the base (“PALMAM GENUERE CARINAE” and “BELLI SECURA QUIESCO”) suggest the meaning of the statues: the first would represent the goddess of naval victory and the second the goddess of peace. On the upper floor of the arch there are four other statues: the first (from the square) represents the “Virtue”, the second, a little smaller than the first, represents the “Faith”, the third represents the “Pietà” and finally the fourth, as big as the first, represents the “Honor”; all to mean that virtue, faith, piety and honor obtain victory and peace.
Barbaran Da Porto Palace
The sumptuous residence for the Vicentine nobleman Montano Barbarano is the only large city palace that Andrea Palladio was able to fully build in his lifetime. It is located at the beginning of contra ‘Porti, a stone’s throw from Corso Palladio, and was built between 1570 and 1575. It is now home to the Andrea Palladio International Center for Architectural Studies (CISA) and the Palladio Museum. On the ground floor, a magnificent four-column atrium. The central columns are then connected to the perimeter walls by fragments of rectilinear entablature, which absorb the irregularity of the atrium plan: thus a sort of “serliane” system is created, a device conceptually similar to that of the loggias of the Palladian Basilica. The unusual type of Ionic capital – deriving from the temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum – is also adopted because it allows to mask the slight but significant rotations necessary to align columns and semi-columns.
In the decoration of the building, the client Montano Barbarano involved several great artists of his time on several occasions: The unusual type of Ionic capital – deriving from the temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum – is also adopted because it allows to mask the slight but significant rotations necessary to align columns and semi-columns. In the decoration of the building, the client Montano Barbarano involved several great artists of his time on several occasions: The unusual type of Ionic capital – deriving from the temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum – is also adopted because it allows to mask the slight but significant rotations necessary to align columns and semi-columns. The result is a sumptuous palace capable of rivaling the residences of the Thiene, Porto and Valmarana, and which allows its client to represent himself in the city as a leading exponent of the Vicenza cultural elite.
It is located in Corso Fogazzaro and was built by Palladio in 1565 for the noble Isabella Nogarola Valmarana. The palace is private and home to temporary exhibitions and other events. The façade (the only one to still retain original plasters and marmorine) is one of the most extraordinary and at the same time singular Palladian creations. For the first time in a palace, a giant order embraces the entire vertical development of the building: it is a solution that originates from Palladian experiments on the elevations of religious buildings. The stratification of two systems is evident on the facade of the building: the giant order of the six composite pilasters overlaps the minor order of Corinthian pilasters, all the more evident at the edges where the lack of the final pilaster reveals the underlying system, which supports the bas-relief of a soldier with the Valmarana insignia.
The building suffered heavy destruction in the Second World War; since 1960 Vittor Luigi Braga Rosa carried out extensive restorations, reconstructing the demolished parts and enriching the building with decorations and works of art from other buildings destroyed in the war, among which the collection of seventeenth-century paintings byGiulio Carpioni with a mythological subject.
Located in Contrà Porti, it is one of the two palaces designed in the city by Palladio for the Porto family (the other is Palazzo Porto Breganze); commissioned by the noble Iseppo da Porto, just married (about 1544), the building sees a rather long phase of planning and an even longer – and troubled – in its construction, which remained partly unfinished. Subject of various renovations and extensions, the building keeps intact only its “public” facade.
It is a large Gothic palace renovated by the young Andrea Palladio, probably based on a project by Giulio Romano. It was built for Lodovico Thiene by Lorenzo da Bologna in 1490, with an eastern facade on Contrà Porti in brick framed by corner pilasters worked in a diamond point, with a portal by Tommaso da Lugano and a beautiful three-light window in pink marble.
Marcantonio and Adriano Thiene in 1542 began the renovation of the family palace. The elements of the palace referable to Giulio Romano and aliens from the Palladian language: the four-column atrium is substantially identical to that of the Palazzo del Te a Mantua (even if the vault system is undoubtedly modified by Palladio), as well as the windows and the lower part of the façade overlooking the street and the courtyard, while the entablatures and capitals of the noble floor are defined by Palladio. The building is the historic headquarters of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza and houses a museum.
Thiene Bonin Longare Palace
Designed by Andrea Palladio presumably in 1572, it was built by Vincenzo Scamozzi after the death of the master (without mentioning his name), concluding the previous construction site. Built by Francesco Thiene on family properties at the western end of the Strada Maggiore (the current Corso Palladio) near the Castle, it was not yet built when Palladio died. The side could be the work of Vincenzo Scamozzi, together with the deep atrium.
It is a small 16th century noble palace whose facade was designed by Palladio in 1560, and which was completed in 1574-1575. The representative facade of the building along the street is relatively narrow. For the treatment of the noble floor, Palladio opts for its division into three arches of equal width, marked by four semi-columns with Corinthian capitals, free at three quarters of the wall and whose base is integrated with the facing of the plinth. The façade is animated by a play of light and shadow, thanks to the articulation in several layers of depth obtained from the use of columns, shaping and balcony of the windows and pediments.
Palazzo Porto in piazza Castello
Designed around 1571 for Alessandro Porto and attributed to Andrea Palladio, it remained unfinished (unlike the many other Palladian palaces which were completed after the architect’s death). The high section of the building that we can see today is the clear testimony of the unfortunate outcome of the Palladian construction site. To the left of the fragment the old fifteenth-century house of the Porto family is clearly visible.
Overlooking the Corso, it is attributed to Andrea Palladio, who would have designed it in about 1540 and was born from the union of two buildings separated by the small road Do Rode, probably built in 1566 following a request by Vincenzo Pojana to the Municipality of Vicenza in 1561. The attribution to Palladio is not based on documentary evidence or on autographed drawings, but on the evidence of the architectural quality of the articulation of the noble floor, with an order that embraces two floors, as well as the design of details, such as the very elegant and fleshy composite capitals and the entablature. However, elements such as the pilasters without entasis (the characteristic bulge that culminates at a third of the height) do not accord with the Palladian language of the 1560s, so much so as to suggest that the design of the left portion of the building is the result of a youthful project by Palladio.
This small building from 1559, overlooking the end of Corso Palladio and developed in height, is attributed to Andrea Palladio and popular tradition identified it precisely with the architect’s home. In reality it is the renovation of the facade of a fifteenth-century house that he carried out on behalf of the notary Pietro Cogollo.
It was the first city palace built by Palladio. Built on behalf of the brothers Giovanni Giacomo, Pier Antonio, Vincenzo and Francesco Civena, it later became the home of the Trissino dal Vello d’Oro counts. The palace was somewhat enlarged by Domenico Cerato in 1750, who added the side wings at the behest of the Trissino family. It was partially destroyed by the heavy Anglo-American bombings in the Second World War (April 2, 1944), and then rebuilt. It is currently home to a nursing home.
Palazzo da Monte
Although present in the list of Palladian palaces protected by UNESCO, this palace is considered by some scholars to be an apocryphal of Palladio. Built in front of the Dominican convent of Santa Corona between 1550 and 1554, it was completed a year after the famous architect’s death.
It was commissioned by Girolamo Garzadori who between 1545 and 1563 promoted the renovation of the houses inherited in contra ‘Piancoli. Perhaps Palladio was asked for a study on the matter. This palace was included in 1994 among the Palladian palaces protected by UNESCO, but there are no certainties on the attribution to the famous architect, although some scholars support it due to the similarities with other Palladian designs.
The side façade of Palazzo Piovini incorporates the portal of the previous Palazzo Capra, which would fall (the attribution is rather uncertain) among the early works of Andrea Palladio; it was a small building commissioned by Count Giovanni Antonio Capra, datable between 1540 and 1545, but completed only in 1567. Today it houses a department store.
Other buildings in the city center
Those designed by Palladio are only a relatively small part of the numerous historic buildings that can be admired in Vicenza, although almost all those built after the great architect have evidently remained influenced by his style, as in the case of Palazzo Trissino al Corso (now the seat of the muncipio). There are also numerous buildings in Venetian Gothic style scattered through the streets of the center, for example those in contra ‘Porti.
It is the first Renaissance palace in Vicenza. The structure of the building and the typology of the moldings suggest its construction in the late fifteenth century, in the environment influenced by Lorenzo da Bologna. At the beginning of the 16th century it passed from the Alidosio to the Conti. At one time the external façade was completely frescoed. The building was completely remodeled in 1926. To understand the profound revolution in architectural language introduced by Palladio, the comparison between the two – significantly different – facades of this building, built before the birth of Palladio, and the contiguous one on the right of Palladio, is instructive. Palazzo Trissino, built after Palladio, to which it is now connected (first and second floors are occupied by municipal offices).
Located along Corso Palladio, since 1901 it has been the main seat of the Municipality of Vicenza. The palace was designed in 1588 by Vincenzo Scamozzi (continuer of Palladio’s style) and was built as a residence for Count Galeazzo Trissino between 1592 and 1667. It was then completed by Antonio Pizzocaro and subsequently enlarged in the eighteenth century by Ottone Calderari. The building is characterized by the presence of classical elements in the façade overlooking the Corso and is articulated around the square of the central courtyard.
t is a very particular small building located in one of the pedestrian streets behind the Palladian Basilica. Built in 1440, it was the residence of the navigator, geographer and writer from Vicenza Antonio Pigafetta, who reworked it in 1481 to its current appearance. It is a rare example of flowery Gothic, with unique decorative scores centered around the twisted motif. The side doors are trefoil, in arabesque. The Renaissance portal is flanked by a motto that alludes to the family crest.
Located along Corso Palladio, the palace was built in the fourteenth century in a late Gothic style. The ground floor was rearranged by Lorenzo da Bologna, author of the rich portal; the atrium and the interior were renovated at the end of the eighteenth century. In the atrium and courtyard you can admire a small lapidary collected by Count Giovanni Da Schio in the nineteenth century, with amphorae, epigraphs, milestones and a sarcophagus from the fifth century.
Repeta Palace (former headquarters of the Bank of Italy),
Located in Piazza S. Lorenzo, on the opposite side of the church, this huge palace was built by Francesco Muttoni between 1701 and 1711 and is one of his first works.
Located in a side street of Corso Fogazzaro, in front of the headquarters of the Bertoliana Library, this beautiful Palladian-style building from the late eighteenth century was the subject of extensive restoration between 2007 and 2011. It was built by Ottone Calderari, although the original project was much larger and more ambitious, so much so that it should have extended to Piazza San Lorenzo. The façade has two superimposed orders: Ionic semi-columns on the ground floor and Corinthian semi-columns on the main floor delimiting tabernacle windows. As per Palladian lesson, the gables of the windows alternate in crescent and triangular shapes. The inner courtyard has a double loggia with the same architectural orders.
The interiors are adorned with sculptures by Vicentine artists, including the bust of Calderari and a female statue, both located in the upper loggia and sculpted by Giambattista Bendazzoli. The frescoes were made by Paolo Guidolini and Girolamo Ciesa from 1784 to 1789; during a bombing on March 18, 1945, part of the works were destroyed, in particular the paintings by Ciesa on the ceiling of the loggias. The building, owned by the Bertoliana Civic Library, is home to temporary exhibitions and conferences.
Palazzo del Monte di Pietà
This large fourteenth-sixteenth century palace is the oldest monumental complex that can be seen today in Piazza dei Signori. Its facade, 72 meters long, dominates the square on the opposite side from the Palladian Basilica and bears traces of large frescoes with biblical scenes (stories of Moses), the work of 1556-1563 by the Veronese painter Giovanni Battista Zelotti (the paintings, for what was redone at the beginning of the twentieth century, today unfortunately they are almost illegible). The palace incorporates the pre-existing fourteenth-century church of San Vincenzo(to which he donated the current Baroque façade) as well as shops, offices, homes, an information point for tourists and the Permanent Exhibition Center of Vicentine Artistic Handicraft (ViArt).
To see in addition to the church: the facades (including that of Francesco Muttoni on Contrà Monte), the Muttonian atrium and internal courtyard, the staircase and the internal loggia, the painting by Alessandro Maganza Allegory of Charityplaced in the ceiling of what was originally the Chamber of Pawns on the ground floor. The complex is still the seat of the Foundation of the Monte di Pietà of Vicenza, heir of the ancient medieval institution (founded in 1486 on the initiative of the blessed Marco da Montegallo) which fought usury by providing credit to the less well-off, and which today deals with art and the conservation and enhancement of cultural assets and activities and environmental assets.
Social Works Palace
Overlooking the Piazza del Duomo on the opposite side from the Vescovado, it is a sober building from 1808, built by Giacomo Fontana by renovating a previous medieval complex with hospital functions that included two churches; the building occupies the entire block and also includes the bell tower of the Cathedral. The Hall of Honor and other rooms of the building are in neo-Palladian style, inspired by the church of Santa Maria Nova. The building, formerly called Casino Sociale dei Nobili, is owned by the diocese of Vicenza and constitutes the intellectual salon of the city, being used for conferences, conventions and other cultural activities.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunciata
The great cathedral of Vicenza stands on an ancient site, perhaps already of a Roman temple, on which various churches were built in succession. Built in several phases, the dome and the northern side portal are by Andrea Palladio. The history of this site and of the Christian community in Vicenza is effectively reconstructed in the Diocesan Museum (see below Museums), housed within the bishop’s palace a few steps away. The cathedral was bombed and semi-destroyed (with the exception of the facade) during the Second World War, and soon rebuilt in its original form, but the rich frescoes that covered the interior walls were irretrievably lost. The crypt houses the sarcophagi of the bishops. An archaeological area that can be visited has been created under the Cathedral.
Temple of San Lorenzo (Church of San Lorenzo)
Located in the central square of the same name, along Corso Fogazzaro, it was built at the end of the 13th century in the Gothic style in its Lombard-Padan version of the 13th century. It is, together with that of Santa Corona, one of the most representative examples of sacred Gothic in the city and was built by the minor Franciscan friars in the thirteenth century. It is officiated by the Conventual Franciscans. In accordance with the style of the churches built by the mendicant orders in Italy in the thirteenth century – the Lombard Gothic that does not completely abandon the forms of the Romanesque – the facade has the typical gabled profile in the upper half and seven high pointed arches in the lower half, characteristic elements of Venetian architecture that are also found in the most important Paduan churches of the thirteenth century.
The most prominent element is the portal, built in the forties of the fourteenth century by the Venetian sculptor and architect Andriolo de Santi and financed with a testamentary bequest of a councilor of Cangrande della Scala. Four fourteenth-century sarcophagi, placed on corbels and covered by stone canopies, are set in the side arches and contain the remains of illustrious men of the time (from left to right, Benvenuto da Porto, Marco da Marano, Lapo di Azzolino degli Uberti and by Perdono Repeta). The tall columns that lead the eye towards the vaults of the ceiling and the beams of light that penetrate the high windows and the rose window pervade the interior – all purely Gothic elements – make the environment one of the most grandiose and evocative of the city. Various works of art adorn the interior of the church.
Church of Santa Corona
The Santa Corona complex – which also includes the cloisters where the museum is housed – is a few steps from Corso Palladio, not far from Piazza Matteotti, and is a must for art lovers. Built in the thirteenth century by the will of Blessed Bartolomeo da Breganze, bishop of Vicenza, to preserve one of the thorns of Christ’s crown, the church of Santa Corona is one of the oldest and most important in the city and was the seat of the Dominicans for a long time. In the crypt under the altar there is the Valmarana Chapel (around 1576) designed by Andrea Palladio, who was buried in the same church in 1580. The building underwent a major restoration between 2009 and 2012. On the Garzadori altar (last on the left) there is the masterpiece by Giovanni Bellini, the painting of the Baptism of Christ (1500-1502).
The chapel of the Thiene family preserves frescoes by Michelino da Besozzo and the altarpiece of the Madonna Enthroned with Child venerated by St. Peter and St. Pius V by Giambattista Pittoni. Among the other works distributed on the altars of the side aisles are the Adoration of the Magi of Veronese, the Madonna delle Stelle by Marcello Fogolino, Santa Maria Maddalena with the saints Girolamo, Paola and Monica, painted between 1414 and 1415 by Bartolomeo Montagna and the canvas St. Anthony assisted by the friars distributes alms to the poor (1518) by Leandro Bassano.
Basilica of Saints Felice and Fortunato
The basilica was born in the fourth century in the cemetery and was majestically enlarged in the fifth century to house the relics of the holy martyrs to whom it is dedicated; after the destruction of the city and the church itself by the Hungarians in the 9th century, it was rebuilt in the 10th century at the behest of Bishop Rudolph and with the contribution of Emperor Otto II. It is an early Christian basilica, initially rectangular, then doubled and divided into three naves. The Benedictines, following the Hungarian invasions, built a new baptistery and the semicircular apse, adding the bell tower and the rose window, as well as a sequence of blind arches and a Byzantine cross on the facade. During the Baroque era the appearance of the church was profoundly modified, enriching it with altars and decorations, then removed by a twentieth-century restoration that brought the building back to its previous order. Next to the basilica there is a small museum exhibition, inaugurated in the 2000s, with archaeological evidence from the church and the nearby Roman necropolis.
Santa Maria in Araceli
A splendid baroque church with a central plan, it is located close to the Querini Park, to which the apse turns. Built in the second half of the seventeenth century as a convent church, it gave its name to the homonymous district of Vicenza. Its project is attributed to the architect Guarino Guarini, while the realization would be attributed to Carlo Borella. The convent of the Poor Clares that was annexed to it was demolished in the 19th century. The church was abandoned following the construction of the new parish church in the mid-twentieth century and was completely recovered with a restoration during the 1990s.
Church of San Marco in San Girolamo
Baroque church little known but with surprising interiors. Built in the first half of the eighteenth century by the Discalced Carmelites on a previous church and convent of the Gesuati, it was dedicated to San Girolamo and Santa Teresa d’Avila. After the Napoleonic abolition of religious orders and related convents, it was used for a short time as a warehouse and tobacco factory and then in 1810 became the church of San Marco, one of the oldest parishes in the city. The attribution of the project is uncertain: given the beautiful style of the interior some believe it is the work of the architect Giorgio Massari, others by Giuseppe Marchi from Vicenza.
The monumental façade (much criticized at the time for its poor adherence to Palladian canons) was built in 1756 based on a design by the Brescian Carlo Corbellini and features 11 statues of saints. The church houses numerous paintings and some masterpieces by Venetian artists of the early eighteenth century, including Sebastiano Ricci, Antonio De Pieri, Costantino Pasqualotto; it also preserves a rare painting by Giovanni Battista Maganza the Elder. The sacristy (which can be visited by appointment) is unique in its kind as it preserves all the precious original inlaid furniture of the time. The San Marco bell school is the only city reality that has remained the guardian of hand (or string) sound.
Church of the Servants
Located in the small piazza delle Biade, next to piazza dei Signori, its construction was begun in the early fifteenth century by the order of the Servants of Mary. The portal of the church (dated 1531) was made by the workshop where Andrea Palladio worked at the beginning of his career and would constitute one of his very first works. The rest of the facade is from the eighteenth century.
Church of Santa Maria Nova
This small church now deconsecrated and unfortunately transformed into a book deposit, was attributed to Andrea Palladio, who would have designed it around 1578 without being able to see it built. It represents the only religious architecture designed by Palladio and built in Vicenza, where for the rest he limited himself to interventions on parts of the sacred buildings (such as the Valmarana chapel, a portal and the dome of the cathedral and perhaps the portal of the Church of Santa Maria dei Servants). It was commissioned by the nobleman Montano Barbarano (the same of Palazzo Barbaran da Porto), who had two daughters welcomed in the adjoining monastery (now a school). The church has a single room, presented as the cell of an ancient temple, entirely surrounded by Corinthian half-columns on bases.
Church of San Vincenzo
The small and ancient church, whose origin dates back to 1387, overlooks Piazza dei Signori, in front of the Palladian Basilica and is dedicated to San Vincenzo da Saragozza, martyr, the original patron saint of Vicenza, today co-patron with the Madonna of Monte Berico. The church was incorporated approximately in the middle of the long front of the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà. The current Baroque facade of the building was erected between 1614 and 1617 by Paolo and Pietro Borini; it has two loggias with three arches, in Corinthian and composite style: the loggias are surmounted by a splendid crowning showing Christ mourned by angels, by the sculptor Giambattista Albanese (1573-1630). The five statues of the pediment are due to the same artist, representing Saints Vincenzo, Carpoforo, Leonzio, Felice and Fortunato (1614-1617).
These works – considered among the best of the Albanian – reproduce the pictorial and luministic intensity of Alessandro Vittoria’s sculpture. Behind the Loggia there is the ancient church of 1387 with the altar facing east, as it was then prescribed (i.e. facing the rising sun, symbol of Christ). Frescoed by Battista da Vicenza, the interior of the church, modified in 1499 and later by Francesco Muttoni, was restored in the 1920s.
Church of San Rocco
A small but precious Renaissance church almost leaning against the Scaliger walls, built in 1485 following a plague in the place where an oratory or a sacred shrine dedicated to San Rocco, protector of the plague victims, already stood. The Renaissance architecture, not in use at the time in Vicentine sacred buildings, refers to Lorenzo da Bologna. Towards 1530 the church was extended towards the east and a new facade was built. A few years after the church the adjoining convent was built, in which the regular Canons of San Giorgio in Alga followed, called Celestini by the color of the dress, from 1486 to 1668; the Carmelites of Santa Teresa, called Teresine.
After the Napoleonic suppressions of the early nineteenth century – the Ospedale degli Esposti, where infants of illegitimate birth, or suffering from psychophysical handicaps or belonging to families too poor to maintain them were collected. The former monastery, with an impressive cloister, was sold to the Cariverona Foundation. The church is used for ceremonies (weddings) and concerts by the polyphonic choir of the Schola di San Rocco.
Oratory of San Nicola
Completed in 1678 on commission by the homonymous brotherhood, it is a chapel that houses a cycle of paintings centered on the life of San Nicola da Tolentino, one of the highest peaks of the measured Vicentine baroque. It has undergone a complete restoration in recent years. The paintings are arranged on two horizontal bands running along the walls and ceiling, each inserted in a stucco frame. Next to the altar, leaning against the walls, there are four aedicules with soft stone statues depicting St. John the Evangelist, the Assumption, Christ and St. John the Baptist. There are works by Francesco Maffei, including the splendid altarpiece depicting the Trinity, a work of the artist’s full maturity, which comes from the church of San Lorenzo, andGiulio Carpioni, two of the most important painters of the Venetian seventeenth century. Carpioni is responsible for the entire cycle of eleven ceiling paintings, surrounded by rich Baroque stuccoes by Rinaldo Viseto.
Oratory of the Gonfalone
This oratory lies in a corner of Piazza Duomo, on the opposite side from the cathedral. It was built between 1594 and 1596 by the Confraternita del Gonfalone, probable continuation of the ancient Fratalea S. Mariae de domo, devoted to the Virgin and linked to the nearby cathedral where it had an altar. The façade of the oratory is subdivided by four Corinthian pilasters, surmounted by a triangular tympanum where two angels are placed supporting the brotherhood’s coat of arms, while crowning with three statues with that of the Virgin in the center. The interior has a single nave. Hit by a bombing in the Second World War, the oratory suffered the same fate as the Duomo, that is to say that it was largely destroyed and rebuilt.
The main altar and fragments of the valuable stucco decoration remain, while the original paintings have been lost (a cycle of canvases on the glorification of the Virgin made under the direction of Alessandro Maganza and to which his son Giambattista collaborated,Andrea Vicentino, Palma il Giovane and Porfirio Moretti), which have been replaced by other paintings from the cathedral: The miraculous catch of fish, circa 1562 (designed for the altar of San Pietro in Duomo) by Giovanni Battista Zelotti (1526-1578); in the main altar the Assumption of Mary, painted by the Albanians around 1640; an arched canvas attributed to Giovanni Battista Maganza the Younger from 1610-15 with a series of miracles performed by an angel; Saints Leonzio and Carpoforo tied to a tree; The condemnation of Leontius and Carpoforo; The conversion of Saint Paul (About 1562), designed for the altar of San Paolo in Duomo by GB Zelotti (one of the paintings was moved to the nearby Diocesan Museum).
Oratory of the Zitelle
A rare example of an octagonal sacred building in the city, it is located opposite the church of Santa Caterina. Built around 1647, it is attributed to Antonio Pizzocaro and was intended for the Pious House of Santa Maria delle Vergini (founded in 1604 by the Capuchin preacher Michelangelo of Venice), known as “of the spinsters”, which welcomed and educated young girls without sources of subsistence. Unlike the bare exterior, the interior is richly decorated. It is divided into three chapels: that of the main altar, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the side chapels, in honor of Santa Cecilia and Sant’Antonio, on the right, and Sant’Orsola, on the left; the roof is domed (not visible from the outside), with large “folded” pilasters, on which are set the ribs, likewise folded, which they rise quickly to create the ogival weft of the dome and then to divide it into eight segments.
The oratory houses a cycle of sixteenth-eighteenth-century paintings dedicated to the Stories of the Holy Virgin, including works by important Venetian painters: by Francesco MaffeiThe rest during the flight into Egypt, The Assumption, The visitation, The crucifixion; the fresco in the keystone and four canvases are attributed to Giulio Carpioni, including The Annunciation and The Adoration of the Magi; two paintings by Costantino Pasqualotto dating back to 1740; The Birth of Mary by the more modest provincial painter Fortunio Parmigiano.
Numerous military buildings are still visible in the center of Vicenza, which mainly date back to the period of the Scaliger domination (late fourteenth century). Although most of the fortifications have been incorporated, over the centuries, into new structures, Viale Mazzini still retains the medieval walls (the subject of a recent sophisticated restoration). In addition to the walls, the greatest testimony of military architecture is with the doors that served as access to the historic center.
Santa Croce Gate
One of the most important remains of the ancient fortifications still intact, it is the last to be built by the Scala family (it was built in 1385). The Scaliger walls of viale Mazzini start from this gate. The door still has an entrance function to the historic center (you enter Corso Fogazzaro). Given the precarious conditions, in 2012 it was the subject of important conservative restoration works.
Built in 1381 by Antonio della Scala to further defend the fortified complex of Rocchetta (where there were weapons and ammunition for the city). In 1848, fierce battles were fought next to this gate to defend the city from the Austrians. The door was demolished in 1926, on the occasion of Mussolini’s visit. In the vicinity, a passage has been opened in the ancient walls which today is given the name of Porta Nova, but which has nothing to do with the original door.
The door closest to the center (entering Piazza Castello) and the main entrance to the city for those coming from the west, represented the passage through the structures of the Scaligero castle, from which it takes its name. It rises a short distance from the oldest Porta Feliciana which was closed and replaced by the current one, which is part, together with the mighty Tower of Piazza Castello, of a fortified complex still wanted by the Ezzelini.
More than a real door, it is an ancient medieval tower whose name derives, according to a legend, from the fishing of a pike of exceptional size that took place in the waters of the nearby Bacchiglione. It is more likely that the name derives from the family that lived there (the Lucii) or from lucus, a Latin term that means “sacred wood”, given the proximity to the woods of Monte Berico. Today, passing through Porton del Luzo, you enter Contrà S. Silvestro.
Santa Lucia Gate
Built in 1369, it leads to the homonymous village. It is characterized by a bas-relief with the Lion of San Marco which was chiseled at the fall of the Venetian Republic and by a plaque commemorating the names of the Vicentines who died during the battle against the Austrians in May-June 1848.
San Bortolo Gate
Gate built in the Venetian era (1455), rather than for defensive purposes as a barrier for customs duties. Also a witness to the fighting in 1848, it survived the fierce bombing of November 18, 1944 which hit the San Bortolo district (then the most populous in the city) hard. The gate was renovated by the Alpini group of the district in 1993-1994 when the municipality reorganized the road system. It is now located inside a roundabout, near the old hospital entrance, having lost its transit function.
Other historical heritage
It is the most important archaeological monument in Vicenza and has no equal in northern Italy. This underground corridor from the Roman era, once part of a patrician domus, is located over 6 meters below the level of the current Piazza Duomo. It was built between the end of the 1st century BC and the beginning of the 1st century AD and various elements confirm the long life of use, at least until the 4th century. It consists of three U-shaped galleries (the two parallel about 27 meters long, the central one 29 meters), with a vaulted roof; air and light were guaranteed by 27 small windows. The cryptoporticus was discovered during the post-war reconstruction in 1954, well preserved.
Arch of the Stairs
Located on the south-eastern edge of the historic center of the city, this Palladian triumphal arch marks the beginning of one of the ascent routes to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Monte Berico (built at the beginning of the fifteenth century), the one constituted by the Scalette, 192 steps divided into ramps and which represented the only access point from the city to the sanctuary before the construction, in the mid-eighteenth century, of the arcades by Francesco Muttoni next to viale X giugno. The arch was built in 1595 at the behest of the Venetian captain Giacomo Bragadin and the project was attributed to the architect Andrea Palladio in about 1576. Above the arch there are three statues, with the Lion of San Marco in the center.
This beautiful sixteenth-century Palladian-style loggia – one of the two present in the Salvi Gardens – is included among the World Heritage Sites in Vicenza, although its attribution to Andrea Palladio has been questioned, so much so that it is inclined towards one of its student. It was built after 1556. The date shown on the loggia, 1592 with the name of Leonardo Valmarana, should refer to the opening of the garden to the public, decided precisely by the noble Valmarana in that year. The loggia is structured as a five-arched Doric hexastyle temple and was intended, according to the client’s project, to be a meeting point for intellectuals and academics.
Located inside the Bishop’s Palace, a few meters from the Duomo, the loggia was built in 1494 by Cardinal Giambattista Zeno, bishop of Vicenza. Like the surrounding monuments it was severely damaged by the bombings of March 1945, but later very well restored. The refined façade has the typical Lombard style of the fifteenth century. Above a portico with four round arches on polygonal pillars – which support the vault with cross vaults – there are eight low openings. The balustrade, with historiated parapets, supports pillars adorned with candelabra on which the rich entablature insists. The western side of the courtyard, where there is a portico with large and low arches, is instead of the sixteenth century, built by Cardinal Niccolò Ridolfi, bishop of Vicenza.
Piazza dei Signori
Piazza dei Signori, is the main square of the city, the beating heart of the city government first as the Roman forum of the city, then, in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with the Palazzo della Ragione (known as Basilica Palladiana) where justice was administered and the Loggia del Capitanio, seat of the representative of the Republic of Venice. In the square – rectangular in shape – there are also the Torre Bissara, the civic tower (with its 82 m one of the highest buildings in the capital), the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà with the Church of San Vincenzo (dedicated to the patron of the city) and the two columns, one with the Lion of San Marco and the other with the statue of the Redeemer.
Piazzetta Palladio, a small square towards the western side of the Basilica, formerly known as Piazzetta della Rua (from the name of the wooden car carried through the streets of the historic center during the Corpus Domini procession). The current name is due instead to the presence of a nineteenth-century statue dedicated to Andrea Palladio by the sculptor Vincenzo Gajassi.
Piazza delle Erbe, located at a lower level than Piazza dei Signori, is so called because it was for a long time the seat of the fruit and vegetable and flower market. The square (dominated by the southern side of the Basilica) also houses a thirteenth-century tower which in the past was used as a prison and a place of torture (Silvio Pellico was also imprisoned there) called, for this reason, Torre del Girone or del Tormento. The tower is joined to the Palladian Basilica by an arch, known as the Zavatteri, dating back to 1494 and so called because the market for shoes and slippers (zavate in the language of the time) was once held under it.
Piazza Biade, located on the eastern side of the Basilica, is so called because the cereal and seed market was held there since 1262. At the bottom of it, on the left is the Church of Santa Maria in Foro, called dei Servi because its construction was begun at the beginning of the fifteenth century by the order of the Servants of Mary. The square houses municipal offices and some departments in a building built after the Second World War. After several controversies for the use of the square as a parking lot for municipal cars, the square was pedestrianized.
Piazza delle Poste
Piazza delle Poste, actually a street (contrà Garibaldi) according to the street map, is locally known as piazza delle Poste due to the presence of the main post office; the building is one of the greatest examples of Italian rationalist architecture in the city. The square houses a fountain (the Children’s Fountain) from 1984, with bronze sculptures by Nereo Quagliato. It is one of the poles of the city’s nightlife given the presence of numerous venues for the ” spritz ritual “.
Piazza Duomo, there is the bishop’s palace with the diocesan museum and the city cathedral. On the left, detached from the Cathedral, is the Romanesque bell tower of the Duomo, while on the southern side of the square is the access to the Roman cryptoporticus, the main archaeological monument in the city, rediscovered in 1954 at 6 meters from the street level, evidence of a domus Roman of the first century. In the center of the square in 1880 a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II was erected by Augusto Benvenuti.
Piazza Matteotti, formerly called piazza dell’Isola (because it was a small island surrounded by the waters of the river Bacchiglione, which sometimes invaded it) and later piazza Vittorio Emanuele, is dominated by Palazzo Chiericati (seat of the civic art gallery) and by the entrance at the Olympic Theater, both Palladian masterpieces.
Piazzetta Santo Stefano
Piazzetta Santo Stefano, characterized by the presence of two noble palaces, the 14th century Palazzo Sex Zen Fontana and the 15th century Palazzo Negri de Salvi, and above all by the façade of the church of Santo Stefano, one of the ancient seven city chapels, redesigned at the end of the 17th century.
Piazza San Lorenzo
Piazza San Lorenzo, houses the nineteenth-century monument to the Vicentine poet Giacomo Zanella and the baroque Palazzo Repeta (formerly the provincial seat of the Bank of Italy), built between 1701 and 1711, one of the first works by Francesco Muttoni. The Church of San Lorenzo, which stands on the opposite side, is together with that of Santa Coronaone of the most representative examples of sacred Gothic in the city; it was built by the minor Franciscan friars in the 13th century. The square (redeveloped in the 2000s with the retraction of the statue and the construction of a fountain on the ground with water features) has marked and continues to mark the days of many young Vicentines who cross it to go to the nearby Pigafetta high schools and Lioy.
Piazza Castello, diametrically opposite to Piazza Matteotti, hosts several Palladian palaces such as Palazzo Porto Breganze, Palazzo Thiene Bonin Longare, headquarters of the Vicenza Confindustria, Palazzo Piovini and the medieval tower of Porta Castello. The square also houses a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi made by Ettore Ferrari in 1887.
Piazzale della Vittoria
Piazzale della Vittoria, a large panoramic square located on the top of the Monte Berico hill, not far from the city, allows you to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, with the mountains in the background, the scene of the battles of the First World War. Particularly crowded during the celebrations at the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Monte Berico, patron saint of the city and during the summer evenings, it is the destination for walks along the arcades of viale X Giugno, as well as the venue for numerous concerts.
Ponte Pusterla is a three-arched structure originally made of wood, then replaced in 1231 with stone which can be accessed from Contrà San Marco or Contrà Vittorio Veneto. The name pusterla seems to refer to a small doorway. Here was one of the original entrance gates to the city, which later became of secondary importance after the advancement of the walls and demolished in 1820 to facilitate connections with the center. Restored in 1444 and again in 1640, the bridge was enlarged in 1928 for traffic needs. The Bacchiglione river flows there.
Ponte degli Angeli, rises near Piazza Matteotti and owes its present name to the ancient church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (no longer existing) which had been obtained from the protective tower of the important St. Peter’s Bridge. Palladio, between 1555 and 1560 had prepared a restoration project. A few centuries later, in 1889, the building was completely demolished because it was considered an obstacle to the flow of the Bacchiglione river and replaced with an iron structure, which connected the two banks until the Second World War, when the bridge was rebuilt in reinforced concrete with a structure more suitable to withstand the growing vehicular traffic.
Ponte Furo from which you can admire one of the most evocative images of Vicenza: the Retrone river that winds through the buildings and in the background the Palladian Basilica flanked by the city tower is in fact one of the most beautiful views of the city. The bridge rises near the point where the Seriola canal flowed into the Retrone where, once upon a time, there was the Eretenia Barrier, one of the customs entrances through the walls that delimited the city.
Ponte delle Barche, located in the central district of the Boats and is the oldest of the Vicenza bridges, with three arches supported by pillars with large blocks of stone. The structure has very low arches, such that in case of heavy rain the Retrone goes beyond the arches, flooding the bridge.
San Michele bridge
Ponte San Michele was built in the seventeenth century on the model of Venetian bridges. The name derives from the convent and the Romanesque-Gothic church of San Michele, the first rich in art and erected in the thirteenth century by the Augustinian friars, partially demolished in the last century to give new spaces to the city, the second destroyed in the Napoleonic era. It can only be crossed by pedestrians.
San Paolo bridge
Ponte San Paolo, which leads from Piazza delle Erbe to the homonymous contrà, was located on the main axis that in Roman times crossed the city from north to south. After a flood of the river, some loading and unloading chutes emerged used by the boats that went up the Retrone and transported the goods as far as the bridge itself, adjacent to the area where the city market takes place; historically, it seems that these slides date back to the Middle Ages and that they were of great importance for Vicenza, where river merchant transport was very much in use until the eighteenth century.
Ponte Novo, originally Ponte delle Convertite due to its proximity to a monastery where young women wishing to approach religious life were welcomed, Ponte Novo was demolished and rebuilt in the 2000s. It connects the northern part of the city with the Corso Fogazzaro area. Until a few decades ago, when the waters of the river were suitable for bathing, young people from Vicenza used to dive from this bridge for a swim.
Parks and gardens
It is the largest green area in the city, the oldest owned by the municipality and one of the few to be free of restrictions on access times (the park has no fences). It rises on the slopes of Monte Berico, close to the railway station. Divided into two sectors by viale Roma, Campo Marzo presents, in the west part, a series of paths that surround some statues (one in Pigafetta, one in Fogazzaro) and the large playground in via Ippodromo, and on the east side the characteristic viale Dalmazia (completely redeveloped between the eighties and nineties) where, in September, the rides for the traditional Festa dei Oto (feast of the Madonna di Monte Berico) are placed.
Adjacent to the walls of Piazza Castello, in the center, it has a rich vegetation, a sinuous course of its avenues, which wind between fountains and statues, along the Seriola canal. Built in the sixteenth century by the Valmarana family as an Italian garden, it was opened to the public in 1592 but, closed after a few years, it was transformed in the nineteenth century into an English garden and reopened only in 1909. The presence of the Longhena loggia and of the Loggia Valmarana, both in Palladian style (the Loggia Valmarana is included among the UNESCO monumentsof Vicenza). Other important architectures are the Arco del Revese (reminder of a larger triumphal arch on viale Roma, demolished to allow a fascist parade to pass), which is the entrance to the garden, and the two pavilions of the trade fair (built in 1947 and today unused). Subject of a radical redevelopment between 2008 and 2009, the garden also features a path suitable for the disabled, as well as a collectible rose garden.
Located between the historic center and the San Bortolo hospital, it is a historic garden characterized by vast lawns, an extensive grove and a suggestive tree-lined avenue flanked by statues of classical style, which leads to a monopterous temple in the middle of an artificial island surrounded by a moat. Born as the garden of Palazzo Capra Querini, it became municipal property in 1971, saving itself from building speculation. It is the park where you typically go for jogging, also given the presence of a fitness trail. In 2010 a sector of the park was enriched with a series of playful-scientific tools suitable for making people understand refraction, kinetic energy and other physical phenomena.
Built in the same place where the first university of Vicenza was located at the beginning of the 13th century, this ancient disused cemetery once housed the graves of the Jews and, in a separate sector, those of the military. The architecture, neo-Palladian, with rustic ashlar, recalls that of the nearby Cimitero Maggiore, by the same author (Bartolomeo Malacarne). Since 1957 it has no longer been used for burials and a pleasant and peaceful English garden has remained.
The park has an extension of 35,000 m² and is located in the area of Viale Crispi, in an area that required environmental remediation after the demolition of the old Lampertico furnaces. The park, fenced, is equipped with a hundred plants, a pond, three fountains with water games, recreational facilities such as a bowling green, a fitness trail and a skateboard track.
Vicenza is a city full of museums: there are eight of the main ones, three of which are owned by the municipality, the rest of the diocese, banking foundations and other private institutions. There are also other smaller museum spaces in the city, and over a hundred museums in the rest of the province.
Civic Art Gallery of Palazzo Chiericati
It is the oldest museum in the city, inaugurated in 1855 as a civic museum in this large Palladian building a stone’s throw from the Olympic Theater. Today it houses the collections of painting and sculpture, the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints and the Numismatic Cabinet. An important nucleus of paintings is made up of the altarpieces by Bartolomeo Montagna, Bonconsiglio, Cima da Conegliano, Speranza and Marcello Fogolino, to which is added a group of civil works, Jacopo Bassano, Francesco Maffei, Giulio Carpioni.
Thanks to noble donations in the 19th century, the Pinacoteca has been enriched with masterpieces by Tintoretto, van Dyck, Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Luca Giordano, Giambattista Tiepolo, Piazzetta and the 33 drawings by Palladio. Finally, the donations include the legacy of Neri Pozza, consisting of sculptures and engravings by the same artist and his contemporary art collection, including works by Carlo Carrà, Filippo De Pisis, Virgilio Guidi, Osvaldo Licini, Ottone Rosai, Gino Severini, Emilio Widow.
Naturalistic and archaeological museum of Santa Corona
It is set up in the two cloisters of the Dominican monastery that flank the church of Santa Corona in the historic center, a stone’s throw from Corso Palladio. It was inaugurated in 1991. Inside, the exhibition itinerary is divided into two sections: the naturalistic one that illustrates the morphology of the Vicenza area with its flora and fauna and the archaeological section with finds ranging from the Paleolithic to the Lombard period.
Museum of the Risorgimento and the Resistance
It stands on the Ambellicopoli hill near the Villa Guiccioli, shortly after the Sanctuary of Monte Berico. The museum collects the memories of events and characters that belong to the history of Italy and who were protagonists in the historical events of the city. In fact, the documents and relics of the collections bear the testimony of Vicenza, national and in some cases European events such as the war events ranging from Napoleon’s first campaign in Italy in 1796 to the end of the Second World War and the liberation struggle (1945). The museum is surrounded by a large English garden. There is a picnic area just outside the entrance.
Galleries of Italy
Intesa Sanpaolo bank exhibition site, it is located a few steps from the Corso and the Museum of the cloisters of Santa Corona. It houses an important collection of over 400 Russian icons and one of Venetian eighteenth-century paintings. It was inaugurated in 1999. Every year, in the internal restoration laboratory, one or more works of art are brought back to their original splendor and presented in the Restituzioni exhibition in May.
Located at Palazzo Barbaran Da Porto, headquarters of the Andrea Palladio International Center for Architectural Studies (CISA), it was inaugurated in 2012. Inside, the wooden models and casts made for the Palladian exhibitions of the seventies, animated computer models are exhibited, multimedia, historical-documentary archives on Palladio and restoration.
Palazzo Thiene Museum
Housed in the palace of the same name, the historic headquarters of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza, it preserves a picture gallery with paintings from the 15th to the 19th century, a nucleus of three hundred eighteenth-century engravings from the presses of the Remondini di Bassano printing house, a section dedicated to popular Vicenza ceramics and two collections of sculptures respectively by Orazio Marinali and Arturo Martini. It also has a rare numismatic collection of Oselle Veneziane (the coins minted by the Doges of the Serenissima), the most complete today visible to the public.
Located in the halls of the Episcopal Palace, a few meters from the Duomo, through an effective path it shows the testimonies over the centuries of the Christian presence in Vicenza, dating back to the third century, as well as hosting collections of sacred goldsmiths, painting, religious art and ethnography. Inaugurated in 2005, in addition to preserving paintings and objects of exceptional artistic and historical value, it is one of the main places where it is possible to admire testimonies of the Roman Vicetia, together with the nearby archaeological area under the Cathedral, the Roman cryptoporticus and the Cloisters of S. Corona.
Located on two levels within the building of the Palladian Basilica, it consists of nine thematic rooms (set up by 11 different international curators) plus a space for temporary exhibitions.
Historical-scientific-naturalistic museum of the Episcopal Seminary
It consists of five rooms of about 90 square meters each, originally used as educational laboratories, with nineteenth-century shelves and display cases that house scientific instruments and zoological, botanical and ethnological finds collected from 1600 to 1900.
Archaeological area under the cathedral
An area of about 750 square meters, inaugurated in 2014, including, on superimposed layers, the remains of Roman dwellings from the time of Augustus and a sequence of buildings destined for worship over the centuries: a domus ecclesiae of the fourth century, an early Christian church of the V with mosaic fragments, a Romanesque church from the 11th century and a Gothic church from the 13th century.
Together with the city of Vicenza have been included in the list of World Heritage Site of ‘ UNESCO 24 Palladian villas of the Veneto; 3 of these are located within the municipality of Vicenza (villa Almerico Capra, villa Trissino, villa Gazzotti), 13 in the provincial territory, 8 in other provinces of Veneto. Only part of the villas are open to the public, but even from the outside these buildings look magnificent. In addition to the Palladian villas, there are numerous Venetian villas around Vicenza and many of them are worth a visit.
Villa Almerico Capra
Built by Andrea Palladio starting around 1566 near the city, it is considered the great masterpiece of the Renaissance architect and one of the most studied, admired and copied buildings in the world. It is an innovative suburban villa originally intended for representative functions (not for agricultural production like the other Palladian villas) and as a quiet refuge for meditation and study for the original client, the canon and count Paolo Almerico. It is one of the earliest examples of the application of a central floor plan to a private building.
It consists of a square building, completely symmetrical and inscribable in a perfect circle. Each of the four identical facades has a pronaos with a loggia which leads to the central, circular, full-height hall. surmounted by a dome (completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi on the model of the Pantheon). Also in the rich decorative apparatus are inserted formal elements destined to suggest a sense of sacredness. Located on the rounded top of a small hill next to Monte Berico, its plan is rotated 45 degrees with respect to the cardinal points to allow each room a similar sun exposure. The Capra brothers, who bought the villa after the death of the original client, then added the other buildings and the barchesse, giving the complex its current appearance.
Villa Valmarana “Ai Nani”
Located on the slopes of Monte Berico, the villa can be reached on foot in about 20 minutes from the center of Vicenza. It is famous for the frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico. It is still owned by the noble Valmarana family and inhabited in part. The nickname of the villa is due to the stone sculptures representing the dwarves, once scattered in the park, today lined up on the surrounding wall.
The main building and the guesthouse were frescoed by the Tiepolos in 1757 at the behest of Giustino Valmarana. In particular, the main building traces mythological and classical themes, with scenes from the Iliad, from the Aeneid, from the liberated Jerusalem of Torquato Tasso and from theOrlando furioso dell’Ariosto. The frescoed characters express a sentimentality that recalls that of the characters of melodrama (Pietro Metastasio), a theatrical genre popular in the eighteenth century. The guesthouse, on the other hand, follows a more modern style, which recalls the Enlightenment, with scenes of everyday life, from the representation of the Venetian countryside to that of distant China.
Located just outside the city, it is a Venetian villa that belonged to the humanist Giangiorgio Trissino and traditionally linked to the figure by the architect Andrea Palladio, although it is certainly not a work of the latter. Tradition has it that it was here, in the second half of the 1530s, that the Vicentine noble Giangiorgio Trissino (1478-1550) met the young stonemason Andrea di Pietro who was busy building the villa. Somehow sensing his potential and talent, Trissino took care of his training, introduced him to the Vicenza aristocracy and, within a few years, transformed him into an architect to whom he imposed the courtly name of Palladio.
Villa Gazzotti Grimani
Designed by Andrea Palladio between 1542 and 1543, this villa has been subjected over time to various tampering related to agricultural use and is currently uninhabited and in need of restoration. The client Taddeo Gazzotti, not belonging to the aristocracy but an educated man, due to a wrong speculation in 1550 was forced to sell the villa, still under construction, to the Venetian patrician Girolamo Grimani who completed it within a few years.
In his project Palladio had to absorb a pre-existing tower house (still visible in the right corner of the completed building). Palladio doubles it at the other end of the plant, creating two symmetrical apartments of three rooms each, connected by a barrel vaulted loggia to the large covered cross room. The structure of the building,Mantua and the contemporary design of the large villa for the Thiene brothers in Quinto. The emphasis on the cross room and the presence of three-unit apartments are part of a language that will gradually be refined.
Religious places outside the city
Sanctuary of the Madonna of Monte Berico
On the top of the hill of Monte Berico stands this imposing basilica-sanctuary, reachable by road from viale X giugno or pedestrian, along the beautiful Porticoes of Monte Berico or the ancient penitential way of the Scalette di Monte Berico(192 steps, starting from the Arco delle Scalette in Porta Monte). The sanctuary, held by the Servants of Mary, is an international pilgrimage destination and commemorates the two apparitions of the Madonna to a pious woman from Vicenza, Vincenza Pasini, who lived in a small village in the province, and the liberation of the city from a terrible plague.
The religious complex is actually made up of two churches dating back to two different eras: the first in the Gothic style, first built in 1428, the second a basilica in classical and baroque style, built in 1703 by Carlo Borella. Inside the adjoining convent, in a room used as a museum, you can admire the large canvas of The Dinner of San Gregorio Magno by Paolo Veronese, painted with a troubled history. There is also a historic library. The mighty bell tower, from 1826, was designed by Antonio Piovene. In front of the basilica stands the large Piazzale della Vittoria, which offers a suggestive panoramic view from the top of the city and of the north of the province to the mountains. The feast in honor of the Madonna of Monte Berico, on 8 September (Festa dei Oto), is the most important traditional event in the city.
Church of San Giorgio in Gogna,Viale Fusinato
Located in the railway station, behind the station, it is one of the oldest churches in the city, certainly prior to the year 1000. Like all churches of the time, the facade is Romanesque in style. The perimeter walls, made up of agglomerations of different materials (bricks, stone, marble recovered from other buildings) are a demonstration of the clearly artisan origin of the construction, which can be seen especially in the polygonal apse. It was restored by the diocese in 2011. Inside an altarpiece by Giambattista Maganza the Younger.
Abbey of Sant’Agostino
Built on previous buildings in the fourteenth century, the abbey of Sant’Agostino is located on the western outskirts of the city, in the hamlet of the same name. There was the Lombard church of San Desiderio, probably from the eighth century. The abbey church was rebuilt in Romanesque style during the dominion of Cangrande della Scala between 1322 and 1357. Inside there is a large polyptych of 1404 by Battista da Vicenza. The style of the frescoes in the church is judged “consistent with that harshness of passion, that vehemence of gesture that so many masterpieces had produced in the Veronese sculpture of that period, and is linked to those hyper-expressive tendencies, almost neo-Romanesque, which, immediately after Giotto and using his own language, they force the classical syntax of the master “, throughout northern Italy, “with tones of heated pathetism” (Barbieri-Cevese 2004).
In the vault of the main chapel the symbols of the Evangelists alternate with the Doctors of the Church, Gregory, Jerome, Ambrose and Augustine: at their feet, angels and allegorical figures including Meekness and Hope. In the keystone is Christ in glory among the angels; on the reverse of the triumphal arch, the Madonna with Child and angels; in the intrados of the arch, a festoon of rejoicing little devils. In the lunettes, in two bands, we see, to the north, the Annunciation, the Birth of Christ, the Adoration of the Magi; to the south, the Last Supper, the Washing of the feet, the Capture of Christ in the garden.
On the back wall, above the Crucifixion with Christ and two angels above; below, two angels, a celebrating priest assisted by a cleric (the Sacrifice of the New Law), a Jewish priest assisted by a young man and some slaughtered goats (The Sacrifice of the Ancient Law). In the right chapel the style is “archaic”. Here in the lunettes are, to the south, St. Matthew and the Saints Catherine and Lucy; to the north, St. Luke, Isaac and Abraham; on the wall at noon, four figures of saints and Christ on the cross; this, triumphant in a royal guise, is a clear derivation of the venerated image of the “Holy Face” of Lucca (city in the orbit of the Scaligeri). On the left wall of the nave there are votive frescoes. Outside, the bell tower is remarkable.
Located in the railway district, is one of the largest equipped green areas in the city. The park connects the city with the surrounding countryside and has a cycle path. Inside you can go for walks and bike rides enjoying the view of the herons and the hills across the river. In the park there are also some spaces equipped for volleyball, five-a-side football and a storage and mooring point for canoes. Every year (at the end of June) Festambiente Vicenza is held there, a popular event promoted by Legambiente on sustainable lifestyles. It is connected with the adjacent park of Villa Bedin Aldighieri by a cycle / pedestrian walkway over the river itself.
Historic park of Villa Guiccioli
The historical park that surrounds the Museum of the Risorgimento and of the Resistance, located on the top of the Ambellicopoli hill (151 m asl), is a very quiet English garden (the area is a military shrine) that offers some panoramic views. Located on a hill just beyond the Sanctuary of Monte Berico, from it you can walk down a steep path into the underlying Valletta del Silenzio until you reach Villa Almerico Capra, Palladio’s “la Rotonda”. There is a picnic area just outside the park entrance.
Naturalistic oasis of the ponds of Casale
Naturalistic oasis managed and protected by the WWF and dedicated to Alberto Carta, it was established in 1998 in the southern part of the municipality of Vicenza in the hamlet of Casale. It consists of about 24 hectares of marshy reservoirs, previously used for the exploitation of clayey sediments. The area was populated with animals and plants typical of areas rich in water. It appears as one of the few natural wetlands of the Vicenza plain and is important for the typical marsh vegetation and for the fauna, made up of numerous species of invertebrates, amphibians, birds and mammals. Birdwatching is practiced here and an environmental training center has been located there (since 2012).
The largest park in Vicenza (63 hectares), located 2.5 km from the center, north of the city on the border with the countryside, is under construction (as of 2015) in the area where the airport of Vicenza previously stood. Vicenza “Tommaso dal Molin”, eliminated for the construction of the adjacent US base “Del Din”. The reuse of the old airport runway and the opening of a historical air museum are planned.
Vicenza’s cuisine reflects its humble, agricultural past. Simple, hearty meals made with fresh local ingredients that reflect the province’s geographical diversity. Unlike Venetian cuisine where fish reigns supreme, game meat, cheeses and vegetables take center stage accompanied by polenta, soft from the stove or day-old sliced and grilled over the fireplace embers, better yet cooked in a pan under the spit where it lightly fries in meat drippings to create a crunchy golden outer crust.
Vicenza is known for its simple dishes, and often famous cheeses, fruits, ingredients and wines, such as sopressa Vicentina, Asiago cheese, Marostica cherries, Nanto truffles, Bassano asparagus and Breganze Cabernet wine.
Among the first courses are renowned risotto with bruscandoli (hop sprouts), which are collected at the edge of the paths in the woods of the Berici Hills, risi e bisi or pasta and beans alla Vicentina, which differs from that prepared in the others. areas of Veneto for using noodles with egg, or even Panà or soup of bread stale and broth of chicken.
Absolutely local dish are Bigoi co ‘l’arna, sort of thick noodles of wheat traditionally drawn with the press turned by hand and served with a ragout of duck. Initially typical of the town of Thiene, over time they have been appreciated throughout the province
Among the main courses we remember above all the bacalà alla vicentina, which appeared on the tables of Vicenza in the sixteenth century: it is a fish dish based on stockfish (dried cod) served with polenta.
The sopressa Vicentina is a kind of big salami of about 8 cm diameter, produced with meat only pork (shoulder can be used, ham, capocollo, but also other parts of the pig), salt, pepper and saltpetre. It too is characterized by the DOP mark.
But the best known DOP product is certainly Asiago cheese, available in two variants, fresh and seasoned. It is a cheese that, thanks to its high quality and to the production methods still linked to tradition, has now reached a high level of appreciation.
A particular product, protected as a Slow Food presidium is the goose in onto, once produced throughout the Veneto region, but above all in the lower Vicenza area and on the Berici Hills.
A very rustic sweet, the whore of maize flour and figs, is sold in pastry shops in a refined version that is halfway between the clamp Venetian and nicolotta Venetian. The traditional version includes a dessert of yellow flour, lard and bay leaf, with little sugar and enriched with apples, dried grapes in the barn, dried figs, walnuts and sometimes grated orange peel. It was cooked under the embers of the hearth until the pre-war period. The current version consists of yellow flour, bread soaked in milk, butter, sugar or honey, candied fruit, raisins, pine nuts.
The self-irony of a team of pastry chefs from Vicenza has led to the creation from scratch of a dessert called la gata (derived from the nickname “Vicentini magnagati”) which uses traditional ingredients (not missing a drop of grappa), in an attempt to fill the gap in the local gastronomy that does not actually have a typical dessert.