A guide to beautiful Vicenza and its hidden gems - Bellarome

A guide to beautiful Vicenza and its hidden gems

Vicenza is an Italian town of 112.198 inhabitants, the capital of the homonymous province in Veneto.

It is the fourth municipality in the region by population, after Venice, Verona and Padua, and the fifth most densely populated.

Venice is a destination for cultural tourism with flows from all parts of Italy and internationally and is nicknamed “the city of Palladio”, from the name of the architect who designed most of his works here in the late Renaissance. Constituting an exceptional artistic realization for the numerous architectural contributions of Andrea Palladio, Vicenza was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Let’s start our journey through unforgettable Vicenza!

 

Palladian Basilica

Palladian Basilica, is not a real basilica, but the ancient Palazzo della Ragione. It is of a beauty that leaves you speechless, with the aqua green cover that contrasts the white of the walls and columns

Why is the Palladian Basilica called basilica without being a place of worship? Palladio decided to give it this name to remember that in ancient Rome the term basilica indicated the place where politics and business were managed.

The Basilica was included in the list of World Heritage properties in 1994. It was built starting from 1546 and cost around 60,000 ducats in total.

On the ground floor there are some goldsmith shops and the Jewelery Museum, while climbing along the fifteenth-century marble staircase it is possible to reach the main Hall, 52 meters long and 25 meters high, visible only during exhibitions and events.

 

Diocean Museum

The Diocesan Museum of Vicenza preserves the most precious and significant works and documents the historical, artistic and cultural journey of the Vicenza Church. The museum is housed in the Episcopal Palace, built at the end of the XII century and enlarged over the centuries, but which owes its present aspect to the interventions of the XIX century and of the second post-war period.

Wanted by Msgr. Pietro Giacomo Nonis, bishop of the diocese (1988 – 2003), the museum was inaugurated in 2005 by Msgr. Cesare Nosiglia, archbishop-bishop of Vicenza (2003 – 2010).

The museum has four floors; the archaeological section occupies the ground floor, while the upper floors house valuable works belonging to the diocese of Vicenza. These testify to the growth of the Vicenza Christian community from late antiquity to the present day, documenting the development of Christianity in the urban center. The relationship with the territory is underlined by a widespread museum system that allows the museum to have a cultural continuity with the city of Vicenza and its museums.

 

Ponte di San Michele

This is one of the most romantic and evocative places of Vicenza. The Ponte di San Michele was built between 1621 and 1623: below it flows the Retrone river. Perhaps one of the most beautiful bridges in Italy, it is a meeting place for young people in the afternoon and leads to the Piazza dei Signori.

The bridge, which is exclusively pedestrian, crosses the Retrone river in the south-eastern part of the city. In this “Venetian style” with a single arch it was built in 1621-23, the third remake of a structure originally made of wood (1265) and therefore of stone (1422).

It owes its name to the proximity to the Augustinian church of San Michele, built in the thirteenth century by the Augustinians, but destroyed in the Napoleonic era; today only part of the convent remains.

 

Piazza dei Signori

Located inside the historic center, Piazza dei Signori is the main square of the city, the place where Vicenza’s social and economic life unfolds, thanks to the numerous events and shows that are hosted here every year.

The square, rectangular in shape, was originally a Roman forum and home to the main market, and owes its name to the presence of the residences of the Podestà and the captain, the representatives of the Lordship of Venice in the Vicenza city.

During the Middle Ages Piazza dei Signori was a place used for the market (still present today, every Tuesday and Thursday), and it was already since then the political, cultural and social center of the city; its vast area consisted of market squares and institutional buildings, already present since the 13th century, which represented the political and judicial power of the city.

The square is dominated by two columns, the one of the lion of San Marco and the one with Christ the Redeemer. If the first was built for the submission of the city to the Republic of Venice in 1473, the second was built in honor of the city and its citizens in 1647.

In this square you can admire  Basilica of Palladio, Torre Bissara, Palazzo del Monte di Pietà and the Church of San Vincenzo.

 

Church of Santa Corona

The Church of Santa Corona is one of the most important religious buildings in Vicenza, and is located within a complex which includes, in addition to the church, also the cloisters of the former Dominican convent, now home to the important Civic Archaeological Naturalistic Museum .

The church, of Dominican foundation, was started in 1261 to welcome the relic of the sacred thorn, donated by Louis IX, king of France, to the bishop of Vicenza, Blessed Bartolomeo da Breganze.

The Gothic interior, with presbytery built by Lorenzo da Bologna in the second half of the fifteenth century, houses numerous and important pictorial and sculptural works. Among these, Giovanni Bellini’s masterpiece “The Baptism of Christ”, placed on the Garzadori altar, a work attributed to Rocco da Vicenza and the “Adoration of the Magi” by Paolo Veronese. In addition, the “Madonna delle stelle” by Lorenzo Veneziano and Marcello Fogolino, the large altarpiece of “Maddalena e Santi” by Bartolomeo Montagna, the “Madonna with Child and Saints” by Giambattista Pittoni. In the apse of the church, the remarkable wooden choir, carved and inlaid, by Pier Antonio dell’Abate.

Among the oldest decorations, the frescoes by Michelino da Besozzo of the Thiene Chapel, from the early fifteenth century, are an important testimony of the most up-to-date international Gothic.

The Church houses Palladio’s tomb.

 

The Naturalistic-Archaeological Museum

It was inaugurated in 1991, as part of a redevelopment project for the entire complex. It is located inside the cloisters of the former Dominican convent adjacent to the Church, and houses numerous fossils found during excavations in the province of Vicenza.

Inside the museum, you will also find finds from the Paleolithic and Roman periods, as well as from the period of Lombard domination. It is divided into two sections: Naturalistic and Archaeological.

The first is dedicated to the illustration of the characteristics of the territory, especially that of the Berici hills whose environmental specificity also includes different endemisms of flora and fauna.

The Archaeological section displays and preserves the most significant evidence of the ancient history of the Vicenza area from prehistory to the time of the Lombards.

Prehistory boasts a rich documentation of lithic tools, testifies to the human presence on the Berici since the Middle Paleolithic, to then continue with the evidence of the Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements of the Fimon Valleys, where the famous square-mouthed vases come from of the inhabited area of ​​Molino Casarotto.

The Iron Age is evidenced by materials from various settlements, among which the copper figurative votive plates from a sanctuary that was located near the current Piazzetta San Giacomo and which attest to the activity of this place of worship since IV to I century to. C.

The Roman era is mainly represented by the decorative and architectural finds of the Roman theater in Berga, and by the crypoporticus of Piazza Duomo. A section is dedicated to the Roman amphorae found in Vicenza and there are also mosaic fragments from the city center. From Rome, however, comes a collection of ancient statuary, a gift from Gerolamo Egidio di Velo in the early nineteenth century.

 

Villa Valmarana ai Nani

The seventeenth-century villa Valmarana ‘ai Nani’ is undoubtedly one of the most significant monuments in Veneto.

Characteristic for the wall enclosure surmounted by a row of dwarf statues, it contains in the entrance hall and in the four rooms on the main floor of the main building, one of the most significant jewels of Italian art: the pictorial cycle of the ‘rooms of Tasso , work by Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico.

The frescoes tell the story of Rinaldo and Armida and constitute the most magical of the three cycles that Tiepolo dedicated to Torquato Tasso’s poem. The stories of the Liberated Jerusalem are rendered in a rarefied and luminous atmosphere, the scenes have traits of refined sensuality, with an amazing chromatic range and inserted in bare walls by architectural systems.

In the guesthouse, the rooms are frescoed by Giandomenico and already describe the new paths of romantic painting, but they are not able to overwhelm as the figures painted by his father do. The comparison is illuminating to understand emotionally that the frescoes framed on the optical illusions of colonnades are probably one of the cycles that closes the history of Italian painting: magic and swan song, an attempt to stop time.

Legend has it that the rich Giustino Valmarana, in order not to create psychological traumas to his beloved daughter, surrounded her with short-lived servants and had the garden statues sculpted in the shape of dwarfs.

The guesthouse is a small museum of eighteenth and nineteenth century objects, books, clothes and costumes.

 

Church of San Lorenzo

The Church of San Lorenzo, which also includes the cloisters and the garden, is one of the most remarkable religious complexes in Vicenza, its construction began in 1280 on behalf of the Friars Minor Conventual.

It represents the great Franciscan foundation of Vicenza and is one of the most important examples of Venetian architecture, capable of merging Cistercian and Romanesque elements.

The rich decoration of the church offers works ranging from the 14th to the 17th century, including the Decollazione di San Paolo attributed to Bartolomeo Montagna and on the back wall of the transept on the right we find the splendid Pojana altar, dating back to 1474, which combines frescoes and reliefs from different eras in a single work.

The Municipality of Vicenza bought the church in 1836, following the Napoleonic suppressions, becoming its owner.

The Conventual Friars Minor left the church in 2017. San Lorenzo is now governed by the Friars Minor of the Gospel.

 

Gallerie d’Italia od Palazzo Leoni Montanari

The Gallerie d’Italia in Vicenza are housed inside the prestigious Palazzo Leoni Montanari, built starting from 1678. It is a baroque building which houses an important museum (known as the Gallerie d’Italia – Palazzo Leoni Montanari) which hosts some masterpieces of eighteenth-century Venetian painting and a collection of ancient Russian icons.

In two rooms on the main floor, nuclei of vases selected from the conspicuous collection of Attic and Magno-Greek ceramics are presented in rotation. The project, called Il Tempo dell’Antico, currently offers an exhibition appointment entitled The hero’s journey, which investigates the theme of the heroes and their mythical events through the depictions painted on twenty Magno-Greek vases.

In other rooms on the first floor, there is a corpus of eighteenth-century Venetian paintings, from small paintings by Pietro Longhi that portray the Venetian society of the time with irony and anecdotal taste, to works of landscape painting: whims and views of Canaletto, Luca Carlevarijs, Francesco Guardi, Michele Marieschi, Francesco Zuccarelli return the natural and architectural splendors of Venice and other cities.

It enriches the layout of the first floor The fall of the rebel angels, an amazing pyramid of sixty figurines carved in a single piece of Carrara marble, made in the mid-eighteenth century by Agostino Fasolato.

Finally, the high floor welcomes the Russian icons which, with the strength of the colors and the fidelity to the ancient models, between faith and beauty, lead the visitor on a historical, artistic and spiritual journey.

 

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunciata

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunciata or Vicenza Cathedral is located in the square of the same name and is an imposing example of the Venetian Gothic style. At the top, there are the statues of the Madonna and Child and some local patrons.

Built in the second half of the thirteenth century, on the site of a pre-existing paleochristian basilica of the fifth century (there are conspicuous remains under the current floor), it underwent modifications in the fifteenth century, and then retained its shape up to the present day.

Inside, at the end of the central nave, at the top of a large staircase, there is the magnificent presbytery, which contains the polyptych by Lorenzo Veneziano consisting of 29 panels with the Dormitio Virginis and figures of saints (1366). The Cathedral is enriched with numerous works of art, including paintings and sculptures, which date back to the period from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century.

The dome and probably also the Alberico Chapel and the entrance door on the north side were designed by Palladio.

The Cathedral is Vicenza’s main place of worship.