art and architecture in Vicenza

Loggia del Capitanio

Where will you go when you can travel freely again? I can’t wait to get back to Italy!

This post is part of a series highlighting a few weeks of wandering Italy in February 2020, from Rome to Venice and back. There are still a few more stories to come. I hope you’ll be inspired to wander along with me. And don’t forget to share your own stories in the comments below!

Vicenza was a late addition to our itinerary; a brief visit to have dinner with a wine industry acquaintance who lives there. The dinner never happened, but Vicenza became a highlight of the journey, nonetheless. No plan. No research in advance, just a lovely apartment with a well-equipped kitchen and a view. 

I admit I knew very little about Vicenza before visiting. That made it all the more exciting to explore. It seemed that there were treasures around every corner. Street art, architectural masterpieces, a rich history, and a culture of easeful elegance. I can’t wait to return. 

the city of Palladio

Vicenza is the city of Andrea Palladio, famed Renaissance architect. In 1994 the region became a UNESCO Heritage Site called City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto. There are 23 buildings designed by Palladio in the city center alone. 

Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), born Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, designed many churches and palaces throughout his career. But he may be best known for the many villas he designed that dot the countryside of the Veneto. He was given the name Palladio (wise one) by his first great benefactor, the poet Gian Giorgio Trissino. We’ll revisit Palladio when we get to Venezia and il Santissimo Redentore

art & architecture

As we wandered the streets of Vicenza, we were able to see several of Palladio’s works. We purchased the four-museum option of the Vicenza Card (a must have!), for a whirlwind one-day visit (though the pass allows for three days). You won’t want to miss the Basilica Palladiana, the Palazzo Chiericati, or The Teatro Olimpico. See more if you can. We started at the Teatro Olimpico, which was just a few blocks from our apartment. 

The Teatro Olimpico was Palladio’s last design. The construction was completed in 1585, after his death by Vincenzo Scamozzi. The theater is built into the structure of an old fortress turned prison. The plain exterior hides a breathtaking stage set in an ancient Roman-style theater. The set is centered on a triumphal arch with trompe-l’œil street scenes that give the illusion of receding into the heart of an ancient city. It’s magical… I didn’t want to leave.

Stage of Teatro Olimpico
Photo by Annette Tomei

As we wandered the streets of Vicenza, we discovered a special treat… a series of Salvador Dalí sculptures on the street for all to enjoy. Our timing was perfect to experience the delight of this public exhibit.  “Walking Among the Treasures of Dalí” was part of an ongoing program by the Museo del Gioiello that unites the art of Dalí and Palladio in the streets of Vicenza. Lucky us!

ci vediamo presto, Vicenza – I’ll see you again

One day was not even close to enough time to spend in Vicenza. Especially with a beautiful apartment and a car to explore the countryside. Vicenza is a short drive from the Venice airport and also a reasonable drive from Milan. I plan to spend at least a week there as soon possible. When I do, I’ll be sure to take you with me!

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