Vicenza Tourist Attractions
SituationThe provincial capital of Vicenza lies northwest of Padua on the edge of the fertile Po plain on both sides of the River Bacchiglione.
It is included in the UNESCO list of sites of major historical importance, and is famous for its goldsmiths' work and the "baccalà", a tasty fish dish.HistoryThe ancient Vicetia (Vicentia) was a Roman town in A.D. 49. In the early Middle Ages it was the seat of the Duke of Lombard, then of a Frankish count, and later became part of the community of Verona. In the 12th century the bishops took it over, then Vicenza became engaged in struggles against Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa) for its independence. In 1404 it finally became part of the Venetian Republic.ArtThe old town, still partly enclosed by its walls, is renowned for its numerous palaces of the 15th- 18th centuries, most notably those built by the Vicenza-born Andrea Palladio (1508-80), the last great master of the High Renaissance, whose grand style, based on his study of ancient architecture, provided a model for the whole of the Western world. His principal successors were Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552-1616) and Ottone Calderari (1730-1803). The leading painter of the 15th century Vicenza school was Bartolomeo Montagna (c. 1450-1523), a native of Orzinuovi, whose works can be seen in the picture gallery of the Museo Civico and in several churches in the town.
Piazza dei Signori
In the heart of the old town of Vicenza is the Piazza dei Signori, the site of the old Roman forum, with two columns dating from the Venetian period and the slender Torre di Piazza, 82m/271ft, built in 1174 for defensive purposes.
Loggia del Capitano
At the northwest corner of the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza the Loggia del Capitano (now part of the Town Hall), was formerly the residence of the Venetian governor; it was begun by Palladio in 1571 but only half finished. To the right is the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, flanking the Baroque facade of the church of San Vincenzo (1617).
On the southeast side of the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza stands the Basilica Palladiana (1549-1614), Palladio's masterpiece, with open colonnades of two storys (lower part Doric and upper part Ionic), a very impressive combination. The basilica was not built as a church but as a meeting-place for the Grand Council. On the first floor is a hall 52m/172ft long with a wooden vaulted roof. In front of the west end of the basilica is a marble statue of Palladio (1859).
From the Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza Via Garibaldi runs southwest to the Piazza del Duomo, on the north-side of which stands the cathedral, a Gothic structure with a façade of white and red marble (15th century) and a fine interior. Under the cathedral are the foundations of three earlier churches. On the southwest side of the Piazza del Duomo the Bishop's Palace has a Neo-Classical façade of 1819. In the courtyard, on the right, is an elegant Early Renaissance Hall by Bernardino da Milano (1494).
Corso Andrea Palladio
A little way northwest of the Piazza dei Signori is the main street of Vicenza, the Corso Andrea Palladio, lined with palaces.
Palazzo del Comune
Half-way along the Corso Andrea Palladio in Vicenza we find the fine Palazzo del Comune (formerly Palazzo Trissino, by Vincenzo Scamozzi, 1592-1662) and 100m/110yd northeast of this the Gothic Palazzo Da Schio, known as the Cà d'Oro.
A little way north of the Palazzo del Comune is the Baroque church of Santo Stefano (by Guarini, early 18th century), which has a "Madonna Enthroned" by Palma il Vecchio in the north transept.
From Santo Stefano in Vicenza, Via Santo Stefano runs northeast to the Gothic church of Santa Corona (13th century), which has a "Baptism of Christ" by Giovanni Bellini (c. 1501; fifth altar on left). On the third altar, on the right, is an "Adoration of the Kings".
At the northeast end of the Corso Andrea Palladio in Vicenza, in the Palazzo Ciericati, one of Palladio's finest buildings, is the Museo Civico. On the ground floor are archeological collections, on the first floor a picture gallery containing major works by painters of the Vicenza school (Bartolomeo Montagna, Giovanni Buonconsiglio, etc.), Venetian masters (Carpaccio, Veronese, Tintoretto, Tiepolo) and others.
Opposite the Museo Civico in Vicenza is the Teatro Olimpico (damaged by an earthquake shock in 1976), which was begun by Palladio in 1580 and completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi in 1584. Built of wood and stucco, this is a Renaissance adaption of the ancient type of theater. The auditorium, with seating for 1,000, rises in semi-oval tiers; the magnificent stage wall offers vistas through three openings of streets contrived to secure the effect of perspective.
Address: Piazza Matteotti, I-36100 Vicenza, Italy
Always closed on: Epiphany (3 Kings' Day ) - Christian (Jan 6), New Year's Day (Jan 1), Liberation Day - Italy (Apr 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter Monday - Christian, Good Friday - Christian
Useful tips: Building visits are not available during performances.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Interpretive sessions sometimes available.
Facilities: Gift shop
From the middle section of the Corso Andrea Palladio the Via Fogazzaro (at No. 16, on the right, the Palazzo Valmarana) runs northwest to the church of San Lorenzo, a brick-built Romanesque and Gothic structure (1280-1344) with a slender campanile and a beautiful main doorway; fine interior with a fresco by Bartolomeo Mantagna (Beheading of St Paul, c. 1500).
At the southwest end of the Corso Andrea Palladio in Vicenza are a number of fine palaces, including the Palazzo Bonin (No. 13, on the north side) and the Palazzo Zileri Dal Verme (No. 36, on the south side). The Corso ends in the Piazza Castello, in which is the Porta Castello. To the left, on the shorter side of the square, the unfinished Palazzo Porto-Breganze, was probably designed by Palladio and built by Vincenzo Scamozzi about 1600.
Chiesa dei Santi Felice e Fortunato
In the southwest of Vicenza stands the Chiesa dei Santi Felice e Fortunato, which was rebuilt in the 10th-12th centuries in its present form, with notable floor mosaics (fourth-fifth century) from an earlier building. The church has a 12th century leaning tower (campanile).
Villa Valmarana (Ai Nani)
Villa Valmarana consists of three buildings: the residence, the guesthouse and the stables. The residence was probably built by A. Muttoni in 1669, while the guesthouse and stables were built later by F. Muttoni. The residence and the guesthouse are famous for the magnificent frescoes painted in 1757. Villa Valmarana is very well preserved.
The surroundings of Vicenza include the Basilica di Monte Berico and the famous Rotonda.
Basilica di Monte Berico
From the Villa Roi, on the southern outskirts of the town, the Portici di Monte Berico (1746), a series of arcades, lead up to the Basilica di Monte Berico. This pilgrimage church was built by the Bologna architect C. Borella in 1668; it has a centralized plan modeled on the Rotonda. In the chapel to the right of the high altar is a "Lamentation" by Bartolomeo Montagna (1500), in the refectory a large picture by Bartolomeo Montagna ("Banquet of St Gregory Magnus"). From the square in front of the church there are magnificent views of the city and the Pre-Alps, including Monte Pasubio and Monte Grappa.
At the bend in the Portici a road runs east, and 2 minutes along this a footpath goes off on the right and leads past the Villa Valmarana (with mythological frescoes by Giovanni Battista, 1757) to reach in 10 minutes the famous Rotonda, a square structure crowned by a dome which was begun by Palladio about 1550 and completed by Scamozzi in 1606. (The Villa Valmarana and the Rotonda can also be reached by road from the Strada della Riviera Berica, which skirts the east side of Monte Berico.)