Vicenza Travel Guide
Vicenza is at once a cosmopolitan city and an important Renaissance city, with huge appeal among lovers of architecture. Notably, it is tied to the legacy of one of Italy's most famous architects, Andrea Palladio, father of Palladianism – the most influential architectural style in the Western World, characteristic in its symmetry and perspective, featuring columns and super-imposed porticos, which borrows heavily from the formal classical style displayed in ancient Greek and Roman temples. Palladianism was actually all the rage in Britain, Prussia and even North America in the 17th and 18th centuries, with Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia, the White House in Washington and Knobelldorf's opera house on the Unter den Linden in Berlin offering up good examples. And in Vicenza, there is an impressive collection of buildings and villas attributable to Palladio, both in and around the city, which have collectively been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and seeing them is the principal reason for visiting the city.
Vicenza is situated in northeastern Italy on the River Bacchiglione, some 38 miles (60 km) west of Venice, or 125 miles (200 km) east of Milan.
Vicenza's main sights are of course the iconic works of Palladio, notable among them the Palladian Villas of the Veneto and the Teatro Olimpico, the latter Palladio's most famous work, centered around a three-dimensional stage. Of interest, too, are the Palazzo Chiericati, a high-profile Renaissance palace, and the Basilica Palladiana on the Piazza dei Signori, which showcases the earliest Palladian arches and windows and is the biggest draw among Palladio fans. There are actually 20-plus other Palladio buildings in town, all of them worth seeing. Besides which, Vicenza has a good store of museums and galleries and a string of ancient churches to add to the visitor interest.
Vicenza's most famous son, besides renowned architect Andrea Palladio, is writer Luigi da Porto, author of the 16th-century novella Guiletta e Romeo, forerunner of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. And the city's most famous foods are Baccalà alla Vicentina – an ancient dish made from stockfish – Asiago cheese, Nanto truffles, and Marostica cherries. Its most famous wine is Breganze Cabernet.
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