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Architect Andrea Palladio's revolutionary approach transformed both public and private buildings, and gave rise to an entirely new style that still bears his name: Palladian. His hometown of Vicenza is home to some of his most outstanding works. In its historic center is the 15th-century Palazzo della Ragione, known as the Basilica. Palladio was commissioned to shore it up when it began sinking a century later, and in 1549 he supported it with the soaring loggia. Behind it, above the market in Piazza dell'Erbe, stands the crenelated Medieval tower, Torre del Tormento. Opposite the Basilica, Piazza dei Signori is one of Italy’s most ...

Architect Andrea Palladio's revolutionary approach transformed both public and private buildings, and gave rise to an entirely new style that still bears his name: Palladian. His hometown of Vicenza is home to some of his most outstanding works. In its historic center is the 15th-century Palazzo della Ragione, known as the Basilica. Palladio was commissioned to shore it up when it began sinking a century later, and in 1549 he supported it with the soaring loggia. Behind it, above the market in Piazza dell'Erbe, stands the crenelated Medieval tower, Torre del Tormento. Opposite the Basilica, Piazza dei Signori is one of Italy’s most architecturally perfect squares, with the slender Torre di Piazza and Palladio’s Loggia del Capitaniato arcade. Along Contra Porti are elegant palaces of Vicenza's leading families, some in the Venetian style and others designed by Palladio; more line Corso Palladio. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this architect’s genius is his last work, Teatro Olimpico, opened in 1589 and the oldest indoor theater surviving in Europe. It feels like a Greek open-air amphitheater, with its sky-painted ceiling and seats replicating the stone steps. The stage, designed by Palladio's student, Vincenzo Scamozzi, is so cleverly tiered and proportioned that it appears to be many times its actual size. Opposite, another Palladian palazzo now houses the Museo Civico, filled with Italian masters and with a magnificent frescoed ceiling in its foyer. At the edge of town,Villa Valmarana (aka Villa dei Nani) is decorated with frescoes by Tiepolo. A short path leads to Villa Rotunda, Palladio's most famous work, whose perfect symmetry and proportions have inspired buildings around the world, including Jefferson’s home at Monticello.

Barbara Rogers
About the Expert

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers has written or coauthored more than 30 guidebooks, including The Portugal Traveler, Drive Around Portugal, City Spots Munich, City Spots Helsinki, City Spots Stockholm, Eating New England, and the Maine section of Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Barbara Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, is celebrated in colorful processions, but winter tends to be gray and dismal. Try to avoid the annual Gold Fair, the first week in June, when the city is overflowing.