Updated: Aug 14, 2020
A complete and detailed guide to the 10 best things to do and see in Vicenza
Are you planning a special weekend in Vicenza? There is no better way to present the city than with what the Unesco World Heritage Site list says: "Vicenza is an exceptional achievement considering the many architectural contributions of Andrea Palladio ... Because of its architecture, the city has exerted a strong influence on the architecture and urbanism in most European countries and the whole world."
The Loggia Valmarana in Vicenza
Walking along Corso Palladio, a small detour in the Giardini Salvi (SalviGardens) leads to the discovery of a lesser-known but very beautiful corner of Vicenza: the Loggia Valmarana. It is said that many eternal love stories were born in this romantic place. Resting peacefully on the waters of the Seriola river, Loggia Valmarana was designed by Palladio or one of his students who was very attentive to the style of the master.<p>
The six columns and the triangular pediment reflected in the water make it one of the most photographed works in Vicenza. According to the will of Leonardo Valmarana, who commissioned its construction, it was to be a meeting place for intellectuals and artists. You can reach the loggia through the recently renovated Giardini Salvi.
Located on the homonymous hill, the Madonna di Monte Berico sanctuary dominates the town of Vicenza. Built to ask for grace from a violent plague epidemic, today it is a symbol of the city. One of the wonderful works of the Venetian artist Paolo Veronese is kept inside. From the large square in front of the sanctuary, the panoramic view of Vicenza is certainly a must-see. The Monte Berico sanctuary can be reached by car, by bus, on foot up theBorgo Berga Scalette and, for those with fitter legs, by bicycle or E-Bike.
Villa La Rotonda in Vicenza
Over the last 500 years travelers from all over the world, illustrious or not, have come to Vicenza to admire Villa La Rotonda, the iconic Venetian villa by Palladio. Goethe wrote about it: "Perhaps architectural art has never reached such a degree of magnificence."
When the ecclesiastic Paolo Almerico asked him for a residence to retire in that was just outside the city of Vicenza, Palladio saw one of his wishes come true: the chance to build a villa-temple. The villa has four identical façades with steps, six columns, and a triangular tympanum. The central hall is circular (from which the villa takes its name) and topped by an enchanting dome. The entire construction was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome which, for the first time in history, was taken as a reference for the construction of a private building. The decorations inside are no less splendid than those on the outside. The highlight is the large central hall, with a balcony that reaches the dome, frescoed with allegories of religious life. The lower part is decorated with fake columns and gigantic figures of gods of Greek mythology.
Villa Valmarana ai Nani in Vicenza
The first thing visitors wonder when reaching Villa Valmarana ai Nani is "What are all these statues of dwarves doing here?". These sculptures in eighteenth-century clothing are indeed a strange presence, but according to legend they were the guardians of the unhappy princess Layana, daughter of the lord of the villa and affected by dwarfism.
Layana's father hired only dwarf caretakers and servants so as not to displease her. One day she saw a prince of normal height and, falling into despair, she took her own life and jumped from the villa tower. At the moment of her death, the dwarf servants turned into stone. In spite of this sad legend, what attracts visitors most to the villa are the frescoes by Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo. Father and son both worked on the villa; the father frescoed the Palazzina and the son the Foresteria, but they also worked together in some rooms. Giambattista Tiepolo chose to paint the great epic themes: Iphigeneia in Aulis, Iliad, Aeneid, Orlando Furioso, Jerusalem Delivered. His son Giandomenico Tiepolo, younger and with a different style, frescoed the Chinese Room, the Peasants' Room, the Seasons Room, the Carnival Room. The Room of the Olympian Gods with the famous Venus, however, is the work of Giambattista.
What to eat during your visit to Vicenza
Don't worry about the Vicenza people's reputation of being magnagatti (cat eaters)... You are much more likely to find cod with polenta, undoubtedly the best known traditional dish of Vicenza.
Before having fish, however, there are plenty of starters to choose from: risottos, not only with classic peas (risi e bisi) but, depending on the season, also with mushrooms, asparagus from Bassano, zucchini, artichokes, pumpkin, truffles from the Berici Hills. Pasta lovers can enjoy bigoli (thick spaghetti), usually served with sauces made from game or farmyard animals. Remembering that this is a land of cheeses, Asiago, Grana Padano DOP, Provolone Valpadana and rare pearls such as Stravecchio di Malga are perfect for a second course. When it comes to desserts, the choice is mainly between dry biscuits, which come from peasant tradition: pandoli, pevarini, forti, zaletti and other, more elaborate desserts such as panettone, focaccia and braids. The Veneto region is a land of great wines.
Have you missed the first part? Click here to read the 10 things to do and see in Vicenza, the city of Palladio (1/2)
Let us introduce you to the beauties of Vicenza!
Click here and discover our E-Bike tour in Palladio's city.
What to eat in the Veneto Region
The Veneto wine production area