This is my third post about Vicenza and this time we will go a bit away from the historic city center to explore two villas located in the heart of the Veneto region. If you have already read my previous two posts please click here to skip the general introduction and jump directly to chapter 2, Palladio’s villas in Veneto.
1. A general introduction to the city of Vicenza
1.1 Who is he that made Vicenza famous?
What is Vicenza famous for? Well, this city is not famous for a specific building or monument. Instead, it’s famous for a person, who became the inspiration for a movement without parallel in architectural history. Now I’ll give you a brief introduction and you can try to guess who he is.
He was born in Padua in 1508 and first gained his working experience as a stonecutter in the sculpture laboratory of Bartolomeo Cavazza da Sossano. However, because of the hard working condition there, he decided to run away to Vicenza, where he worked in the sculpture laboratory of Pedemuro San Biagio. Between 1535 and 1538, the meeting between him and Giangiorgio Trissino changed his life. It was Giangiorgio Trissino, a poet and humanist, who christened him “(his most popular name, which is also a reference to the Greek Goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athena)”, and guided him through his education, which was mainly based on the study of classical buildings. Giangiorgio Trissino even took him to Rome several times so that he could not only observe in reality the classical monuments, study their materials, their building techniques and their spacial ratios, but also meet the great people of his time such as Michelangelo, Sebastian Serlio, Giulio Romano, Bramante and so on.
In around 1540 he started his own building business and designed works such as Palazzo Civena in Ponte Furo and Villa Godi in Lonedo. In 1549, another great opportunity made him famous and popular not only among the noble families in Vicenza but also in Venice, which was the reconstruction of the loggias of the Vicenza Basilica to replace the original ones from the 14th century. In fact, it might be improper to say that an opportunity made him so because it sounds like he got the project because of luck. I believe he already proved his talent at that point because some of the competitors for the same project were Serlio, Sansovino, Sanmicheli and Giulio Romano, who were all renowned Italian architects during the Renaissance period. Right after this point, the busiest period of his career came and he designed many spectacular buildings from Palazzo Chiericati to Villa Barbaro di Maser, from Villa “Malcontenta” in Mira to the well-known “Villa Rotonda” and to the Venetian churches of the Santissimo Redentore and of San Giorgio Maggiore, which ensured his position in history as one of the greatest and most influential architects. In 1570, he also published his treatise, “The Four Books of Architecture“, expressing his ideas and experience. His final design is the Teatro Olimpico, which was requested by the Accademia Olimpica to perform classic tragedies. The construction work started between February and March in 1580 but unfortunately he passed away on 19th August in same year and wasn’t able to see the completion of the theatre, which is nowadays one of only three Renaissance theatres remaining in existence.
If you can pick up the key clues in the brief introduction above I believe you can guess who he is already. If not, I’ll give you one last clue. The style of architecture, “Palladianism“, based on the writings and buildings of this architect and theorist, is named after his surname (and the only architectural style in history which is named after an architect’s surname). Yes, he is Andrea Palladio, a great architect who influenced generations of artists and architects not only in Europe but also around the world.
1.2 What’s the connection between Palladio and Vicenza?
As the UNESCO comments:
Founded in the 2nd century B.C. in northern Italy, Vicenza prospered under Venetian rule from the early 15th to the end of the 18th century. The work of Andrea Palladio (1508–80), based on a detailed study of classical Roman architecture, gives the city its unique appearance. Palladio’s urban buildings, as well as his villas, scattered throughout the Veneto region, had a decisive influence on the development of architecture. His work inspired a distinct architectural style known as Palladian, which spread to England and other European countries, and also to North America.
Now I believe you have the same question as I did when I first googled about Vicenza on the internet: why is this specific city so closely connected to Andrea Palladio? Well, first of all, Vicenza is commonly known as the city of Palladio because it has the highest number of works designed by him as well as the ones inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage. For example, in 1994, 23 monuments, palaces, public and religious buildings in the town center together with 3 villas outside the city wall comprised the original list. In 1996, 21 villas (of course also designed by him) in several provinces in Veneto were also added as an extension to the the general property. You might have heard about a lot of Palladian villas but please note that many of them were not designed by Andrea Palladio himself, instead, they were actually designed by the followers of him who were inspired and deeply influenced by his style. It is only in the Vicenza province and the Veneto region that you can find Palladio’s original designs, or in other words, the models and source of Palladianism.
The second reason why Vicenza is closely connected to Palladio is that it’s the birthplace of an movement without parallel in architectural history after his intimate study of classical Roman architecture. It was him who designed the town houses in the medieval city and fitted them to the urban texture. It was him who created the picturesque ensembles and continuous façades and harmoniously combined the Veneto Gothic style with his own Classicism. It was also him who, while designing the country villas, “synthesized both figuratively and materially the functional aspects of management of the land and the aristocratic self-gloration of the owner”. All in all, the survival of Palladio’s originally buildings in the city center as well as in the Veneto region (mostly villas) is the survival of a “humanist concept based on a living interpretation of antiquity“, which has been applied to both rural and urban contexts.
Last but not least, what’s also noteworthy is that the movement started in Vicenza and was later spread all over the world. For example, scholars such as Inigo Jones and Thomas Jefferson (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, who once even referred to Palladio’s book “Quattro Libri” as his bible) were enlightened by the main principles emphasized by Palladio, under which the branches such as English Palladian architecture, Irish Palladianism and North American Palladianism also developed. It was said that for the competition to design the President’s House in Washington DC, Thomas Jefferson anonymously submitted a design that was a variation on the Villa Rotonda (designed by Palladio as the picture shows below). What’s more, the East facade of the Stourhead House, the Woburn Abbey designed by Burlington’s student Henry Flitcroft, the Chiswick House designed by Richard Boyle and William Kent, the Russborough House in Ireland designed by the German architecture Richard Cassels, the former Irish Houses of Parliament in Dublin designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, the Rotunda at the University of Virginia designed by Thomas Jefferson, the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis, Maryland, the palaces of St. Petersburg and many other examples all testify to the ingenious architectural concepts brought up by Andrea Palladio.
1.3 A general introduction to my posts about Vicenza
Having learnt so much about Andrea Palladio and his relation to the city of Vicenza, I’m sure that you can’t wait anymore to see his original buildings in the historic city center as well as his villas in the Veneto region. In the following four posts about Vicenza, I’m gonna introduce to you first of all a planned route to visit all the 23 works (In fact, as shown on the official brochure of the itinerary and as I experienced by myself, there are only 22 works in the city center, but I read from the official website of the UNESCO that there are in total 23. My guess is that maybe the cupola and the portal of the cathedral count as two works) in the city center designed by Palladio and inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. In the second post, I’m gonna take you to have a close look at three of the buildings (Teatro Olimpico, Pinacoteca di Palazzo Chiericati and Palazzo Barbaran da Porta, also hosting the Palladio Museum) because you can visit the interior of them. Also in this post, I’m gonna write about the Valmarana Chapel, which is designed by Palladio and is located inside the church of Santa Corona. Please note that the church itself is also worth visiting because it was built to house the relics of the Holy Thorn and some works of art by Giovanni Bellini, Paolo Veronese and so on are also presented here. Why do I place these four attractions in one post? It is because you need to pay a fee to visit the interior but if you buy the Museum Card, you can enter them for free and it’s a really good deal. In the third post, I’m gonna show you two villas, one of which is the probably the most famous villa inscribed in the World Heritage list, Villa Capra “La Rotonda”. As I mentioned above, this villa is said to have inspired a thousand subsequent buildings, including Thomas Jefferson’s version of the White House in Washington DC. The other villa I visited is located in the Comune of Caldogno and it is called Villa Caldogno. It was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996 and though located outside the town of Vicenza, it is still accessible by public transport. Last but not least, in the fourth post, I’m gonna introduce to you one more villa, Villa Valmarana ai nani, located in the town of Vicenza and very close to Villa Capra “La Rotonda”. Though it was neither designed by Palladio nor inscribed in the World Heritage list, it is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vicenza because of the rooms decorated by Tiepolo the father and the son. Trust me, you won’t regret visiting it.
1.4 Some tips about traveling in and around Vicenza
Before starting the Palladian route, there are some general tips that I wanna give to you concerning traveling in and around Vicenza. First of all, the city is not that big so if you live in or close to the city center, you can basically walk everywhere. Nevertheless, if you wanna visit the villas as I will mention in my 3rd and 4th posts, you should take buses. (If you have a car while exploring Vicenza and its surroundings, it’s even better because there’s quite some parking space around the limited traffic zone and you can reach the villas much faster and more conveniently.) If you plan to take buses, please note that there are two kinds of tickets, one of which is green and is only valid for the town of Vicenza and you can use it for 90 mins from the time you validate it. The other one is red, which you can use to travel to other towns and is valid for 120 mins from the time you validate it (in my case, I only used this type of ticket to travel to the Comune of Caldogno to visit Villa Caldogno). How to tell whether the place you are going to is out of the town of Vicenza or not? Well, you can take a close look at the the bus route board at the bus stop and if there’s a dividing line between the stops, it means the bus is going out of the town of Vicenza and if you are going to the stops after the line, you should buy the red card. You can either buy the bus cards in the tobacco shops, where they cost around 50 cents less per card or buy them from the bus driver directly (2 euros for both types of cards). DON’T forget to validate the card EACH TIME you board a bus.
If you travel at night (for example after 21:00) or want to save some time and trouble on the way, taxi is a great option (4 euros + 1.6 euros/km). You can book it in advance online at www.taxivicenza.com or by calling the number +39 0444 920600.
2. Palladio’s villas in Veneto
As commented by the UNESCO, “the definitive Palladian country villa synthesizes, both figuratively and materially, the functional management of the land and the aristocratic self-gloration of the owner“. Its core is a house-temple decorated with a monumental staircase and crowned by a pediment supported by columns of the loggia. Porticos extend alongside the wings starting from the main building and usually end with towers. “The different components are linked by a common classical language and are ordered according to a well-defined hierarchy.”
Please note that though the core of Palladio’s villas is summarized as a temple-house, it doesn’t mean they are identical to each other. The villas have variations and their own features which attest to Palladio’s personal and ingenious interpretations of classical architectural patterns as well as his constant typological experimentation.
Different from the previous two posts which talked about Palladio’s works in the city center of Vicenza, this post is gonna talk about two of his villas scattered in the Veneto region. In fact, in 1994, 23 monuments, palaces, public and religious buildings in the town center together with 3 villas outside the city wall (but still in the city of Vicenza) comprised the original list of the works by Palladio protected by the UNESCO. Two years later, in 1996, another 21 villas in several provinces in Veneto were added as an extension to the general property. These villas not only manifest Palladio’s creative genius but also testifies to his versatility in applying his principles to rural as well as urban contexts.
Feeling that the statements are too general and abstract? Now let me exemplify them with Villa Capra “La Rotonda”, one of Palladio’s best-known legacies to the architectural world.
3. Villa Capra “La Rotonda”
First and foremost, please pay attention to the opening hours of this villa.
- From mid-March to late October it is open daily (except Mondays): 10:00-12:00 & 15:00-18:00
- From late October to mid-March it is open daily (except Mondays): 10:00-12:00 & 14:30-17:00
Before your visit, it is recommended to check the official website of “La Rotonda” for a more accurate and updated schedule because it might be closed during the winter season. (I read about this information in wikipedia but I went there on 29th November 2017 and it was open.)
Please also note that:
- the interior of the villa CAN ONLY be visited on Wednesdays and Saturdays (except exclusive visits booked in advance) while the exterior is open to the public almost every day of the year (except Mondays, Easter Sunday, 25th December and 1st January)
- it is forbidden to take pictures inside the villa
- visiting the interior as well as the exterior costs 10 euros and visiting the exterior alone costs 5 euros
- for more information about private and exclusive visits as well as special opening days please click here
- you can take bus No.8 or bus No.13 from Viale Roma 17 (close to Piazza del Castello) or from the train station to Via Riviera Berica 70 and walk for around 7 mins to reach the villa
- if you wanna take a taxi, from the train station to the villa it costs around 10 euros
After making sure we can enter the villa successfully, let’s explore it from its history, surroundings (landscape), exterior (the general structure) and interior (the rooms, floors and decorations).
The proper name of this villa is Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana, but it is also known as La Rotonda, Villa Rotonda, Villa Capra and Villa Almerico. The name “Capra” comes from the Capra brothers, who took over and completed the building after the first owner Paolo Almerico passed away. Originally, Palladio designed the villa in 1566 for the canon Paolo Almerico, who after his retirement from the papal court, decided to come back to his birthplace and build a quiet house in the countryside. As Palladio wrote in his “I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura” (The Four Books of Architecture),
Among the many honored gentlemen of Vicenza, one numbers as well Monsignor Paolo Almerico, a man of the church who was referendary to two popes, Pius III and V, and who merited by his virtue to be a citizen of Rome, along with the whole house of his lineage. After many years of travel in pursuit of honor, and after the death of the whole of his family, this gentleman returned to his native country and found his satisfaction in a suburban, hill-side residence, less than a quarter of a mile outside the city, where invention prompted him to the construction of the edifice as follows…”
Unfortunately, neither the architecture nor the client saw the completion of this villa and it was taken over by the Capra brothers in 1591 who hired Palladio’s spiritual heir, Vincenzo Scamozzi to finish the job. Now please follow me through the main gate (next to which the ticket office is located), which is shown in the first picture in this chapter, and walk towards this temple-house.
Before focusing on the villa itself, let’s first walk around it and take a look at the surroundings. As remarked by Palladio in his treatise,
The site is among the most pleasant and most delightful to be found anywhere: it rises at the top of an easily climbable summit, is on one side watered by the Bacchiglione, a navigable river, and on the opposite surrounded by other gentle hills, suggestive of an enormous theatre, and all of them cultivated, abundant with the most excellent fruits, and excellent views, extending as far as the horizon.
As you can see from the second picture in this section, the landscape, a panoramic vision of trees, meadows and woods, with the distant Vicenza on the horizon, is indeed marvelous. The moment I saw under the cloudy sky the misty field at the background of the mountains, Van Gogh’s impressionist paintings came to my mind. In fact, the villa was designed to be in perfect harmony with the landscape. Though the house appears to be completely symmetrical, it has certain deviations (such as the width of steps, retaining walls, etc.), designed to allow each façade to complement the surrounding landscape and topography. In this way, Palladio sacrificed the symmetry of the house for the asymmetry of the land (without us noticing) and created a seemingly symmetrical whole.
Back at the entrance gate, between the service blocks, the long driveway which leads to the northwest portico (as shown in the first picture in this section) was built by the Capra brothers. They commissioned Vincenzo Scamozzi to complete the villa after Palladio and construct the range of staff and agricultural buildings. As I approached the villa from this avenue, I felt I was ascending from some less worthy place to a temple on high. The same view in reverse, from the villa, highlights a classical chapel on the edge of Vicenza, thus the villa and the town are united. Though nowadays the northwest portico is the main entrance to the villa, I read from the book “Andrea Palladio, journeys into imagined harmony in Vicenza and the Veneto region” that originally the main entrance was the one facing the river and the northwest one was the service entrance aligned with the service buildings. To me, this theory sounds reasonable but as I read from another book called “The Rotonda”, which was provided by the staff on site, “the principle entrance, still today, is that on the northwest façade, and the carriageway that leads to it, passing the outlying farm buildings”. In this book it explains that this is the façade where the inscription begins, which was ordered by the Capra brothers to circle the architraves of all four façades. If this was not the main entrance, why did the inscription start here? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer here as for which one was the main entrance. Nevertheless, the view towards the northwest portico from the path between the service buildings is really worth appreciating.
Now please walk around the villa again but this time, remember to focus on the building itself. One interesting fact about this villa is that Palladio inserted the design of it into the volume of the “Four Books of Architecture” which was dedicated to the (palazzos) palaces. In this sense, “La Rotonda” was designed to be a suburban residence instead of a farm house.
After a walk around, it won’t be difficult to notice that the temple-house is a symmetrical building with typical Renaissance architectural features. Each of the four façades has a projecting portico flanked by one single window on each side and the whole unit is contained within an imaginary circle which touches each corner of the building and centres of the porticos. Each of the four porticos has a pediment decorated with statues of classical deities and is supported by six Ionic columns. Unique in Palladio’s civil architecture, the floor plan of the house is an intersection of a square with a cross and the central hall, which takes up the whole height of the building, is as magnificent as a church. This was probably related to Paolo Almerico’s (the first client) ecclesiastical rank. In fact, the central circular hall with its dome is exactly where the name, “La Rotonda” came from.
Do you remember I said that Palladio passed away before seeing the completion of the villa and the project was later commissioned to Scamozzi by the Capra brothers? One of the major changes that Scamozzi made to the original plan was to modify the two-storey central hall. Palladio had intended to build a high semi-circular dome but Scamozzi designed a lower one with an oculus inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Eventually, the dome was completed with a cupola.
Now let’s climb up the stairs leading to the northwest portico and enter the house from here. Unfortunately, its forbidden to take pictures inside the villa so I can’t show you what the interior looks like. Nevertheless, I’ll try my best to introduce to you the three floors, the rooms and the decorations.
The circular domed central hall could be accessed from all four porticos via small corridors and together with the other rooms, it was proportioned with mathematical precision according to Palladio’s own rules of architecture which he published in the Quattro Libri dell’Architettura. In fact, in order for each room to have some sun, the design was rotated 45 degrees with the four corners pointing towards the cardinal points.
As Palladio said in this treatise,
The rooms dedicated to utility and use of the family are to be found below. The salon is on the central floor and is round, and receives its light from above. The smaller rooms are paired. Above the larger, which has high vaults of the first manner, and all around the salon, there is a promenade place, of the width of fifteen feet and a half.
The villa is divided into three floors connected by four circular staircases near the central salon. The first floor, accessible from the porticos, is the most lavishly decorated. It features the great central salon which connects other parts of the villa and was where the “official” life of the villa took place. The ground floor was where the kitchens, laundry rooms and servants’ rooms were located and the second floor, called by Palladio as a “promenade” probably because it encircled the cupola, was used as a storage room. Visitors can visit all the rooms on the first floor but can not go to the ground floor or the second floor. However, the “promenade” can bee seen once you arrive at the central hall.
As for the decorations of the villa, the statues depicting deities along the staircase are the work of Lorenzo Rubini, as mentioned by Palladio in his book. However, the statues above the pediment were made by Giambattista Albanese, commissioned by the Capras at the end of the 16th century. At the beginning of the 17th century, Oddorico Capra commissioned the frescoes and stuccoes inside the dome, in the four corner rooms and in the small rooms. It is thought that the frescoes were painted by Giambattista and Alessandro Maganza and the stuccoes made by Agostino Rubini. Besides frescoes, the major rooms are also decorated with lavish marble fireplaces and beautiful stucco decorated cowls, possibly by Agostino Rubini and Ottaviano Ridolfi and their floors are made of precious venetian battuto. The last decorations were made at the beginning of the 18th century, when the French painter Louis Dorigny painted the frescoes of the hall the corridors for the wedding of Marzio and Cecilia Capra. Of all the rooms, I strongly recommend you paying attention to the West Salon (also called the Holy Room, because of the religious nature of its frescoes and ceiling), the East Salon (which contains an allegorical life story of the first owner Paolo Almerico and his many admirable qualities portrayed in fresco) and the central, circular hall (with walls decorated in trompe l’oeil). It is a pity that I can’t show you any pictures of the interior but I can promise you, it is no less glorious than the interior of a cathedral. I guess now the only way to see it is to come to Vicenza and visit the villa by yourself.
Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana become one of the most inspirational architectural prototypes for the next five hundred years. I guess neither Paolo Almerico nor Palladio had thought of such influence. For example, in England, the Henbury Hall in Cheshire, the Chiswick House in Greater London, and the Mereworth Castle in Kent; in the Palestinian city of Nablus, the “House of Palestine”; in Poland, the Królikarnia Palace and the Belweder in Warsaw and the Skórzewski Palace in Lubostroń. All of them got inspiration from Palladio’s “La Rotonda”. In the USA, for the competition to design the President’s House in Washington, DC, Thomas Jefferson (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, who once even referred to Palladio’s book “Quattro Libri” as his bible) anonymously submitted a design that was a variation on the Villa Rotonda. Though James Hoban’s Palladian design was finally chosen for the residence, which is what we know now as the White House, the influence of the Villa Rotonda can also be seen at Jefferson’s own iconic home of Monticello.
Now let’s move even further to the municipality of Caldogno and explore one of Palladio’s early works, Villa Caldogno. Please note that you can reach Villa Valmarana ai Nani from Villa “La Rotonda” easily by foot but considering it’s not designed by Palladio, I’ll talk about it in my next post.
3. Comune di Caldogno – Villa Caldogno
Together with 20 other villas designed by Palladio in the Veneto region, this villas was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 as an extension to Palladio’s works inscribed in 1994. It is in municipal ownership and is open to the public. However, please note that this villa is only open to the public from March to November on Saturdays from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00 and on Sundays from 9:00 to 12:00 under the premise that no events or weeding celebrations are scheduled. This villa is located in the town of Caldogno, which is about 10 km north of Vicenza so if you decide to take a taxi here from the city center or the train station, it costs around 20 euros. Alternatively you can also take a bus here (you can take bus No.9 from Piazza Matteotti to Via Zanella Fronte Civico 38 Caldogno which takes 26 mins) but please remember to buy the GREEN bus card. Now, after making sure the villa is open and we can reach it conveniently, let’s start our tour.
First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to the mayor of the town of Caldogno, who allowed me access to the villa outside its official visiting hours and granted my photo request. Villa Caldogno was commissioned by Losco Caldogno, a nobleman from Vicenza who gained fame in silk trade. Having inherited a rural estate, he decided to reconstruct the farm and called upon the young architect who had already proved himself worthy with works such as the Villa Godi. Palladio was only 34 years old when he got the job and at that time he was still working for the workshop of Girolamo Pittoni and Giacomo da Porlezza. Though the villa is not included in I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura, Palladio’s treatise of 1570, it is still attributed to him considering its similarity to certain villas, such as the Villa Saraceno, which Palladio is known to have designed in the 1540s. The building has a very linear plan most likely due to its existing walls and is mainly composed of a central open room with some side rooms located on the first floor (the piano nobile) and a portico which can be accessed through the steps from the outside (as shown in the first picture in this chapter). This villa is actually one of Palladio’s works used at their best today because it not only is the seat of the town library but also hosts various cultural and social events.
I’d like to draw your attention to one detail of the main façade, which is the Latin inscription “Angelus Calidonius Luschi Filius MDLXX” as you can see from the picture above. It dates the completion of the building to 1570 when it belonged to Angelo Caldogno. Nevertheless, as I said before, Angelo’s father, Losco Caldogno, appears to have started the construction in the 1540s, incorporating walls from a pre-existing building, so did it actually take around 30 years to complete the building? As I read from Wikipedia, 1570 possibly indicates the date of the completion of the villa’s decorative program. Now follow me to enter the villa from the side door on the right and prepare to be amazed by the stunning frescoes of the interior.
Once I entered from the side door, I arrived at the ground floor of the villa. The basement with vaults supporting the upper central hall and side rooms could be visited. However, I was most astonished when I climbed the staircase and arrived at the central hall on the piano nobile. In fact, not only the central hall, but also the side rooms and even the portico are so lavishly decorated with frescoes, which depict lively scenes with Renaissance atmosphere and made me feel I was visiting a theatre or even a fresco museum. Let’s say if the architectural features of this villa are not as popular or significant as the ones of Villa “La Rotonda”, the frescoes are definitely comparable. These marvelous works were created by Giovanni Antonio Fasolo, who have trained in the Venice studio of Paolo Veronese and worked at the frescoes of some other buildings by Andrea Palladio such as Casa Cogollo and Palazzo del Capitaniato (this was his last work because he died by an incident when he was working at the ceiling of the loggia of this Palazzo) and Giovanni Battista Zelotti (1526-1578), who was a contemporary of and shared work with Paolo Veronese and frescoed other villas designed by Andrea Palladio such as Villa Emoand Villa Foscari. If you are interested in knowing about what the frescoes in the villa are depicting, please click here to visit the official website of Comune di Caldogno and download the info brochure in English.
After a long day visiting Palladio’s villas in and around Vicenza, I felt it was a bit more tiring than visiting his works in the historic center. Because visiting Vicenza was in the middle of my visit to Verona and Venice, I decided to stay in a hotel with a wellness center to relax a bit. This time I chose Hotel Viest and even though it was a bit far from the city center (30 mins away from the train station by bus No.1 and 10 mins away by taxi which costs around 15 euros), it was worth the effort and money. Of course the room was really quiet, cosy and clean and the breakfast was also great (I also had dinner there and I suggest you try the spaghetti with duck meat), but, one feature of this hotel that impressed me most was the wellness center. It was equipped with many facilities such as a SPA, an outside pool (closed in winter), two quiet rooms where you can just rest and relax, saunas of various types (different sauna rooms with different degrees of temperature and humidity), jacuzzi showers and some kind of equipment beneficial to blood circulation which allows you to walk around in cold and hot water alternatively. By the way, if you are driving to Vicenza, this hotel suits you even better because you only need 10 mins to arrive here and you can park your car right in front of your room door. All in all, if you wanna have one (or more) relaxing evening(s) during your busy trip, Hotel Viest is a perfect option with a reasonable price.
Because I wasn’t driving in Vicenza and I only planned three days there, it was a bit difficult to visit the other villas. Nevertheless, I really hope that I can visit Vicenza again someday not only for visiting the rest of Palladio’s works but also for re-visiting the ones that I studied and read about. In these two weeks, in order to know more and write about Palladio and his works both in the city center and in the Veneto region, I read books, made notes and searched for information on the internet. Though a bit tiring, these experiences really helped me learn a lot. If you find certain information that I wrote in these three posts about Vicenza inaccurate, please don’t hesitate to contact me and help me correct them because I am just a learner and I’ve never studied architecture, let alone classical architecture.
My introduction to the “Palladian Vicenza” is officially finished here, but the city still has more to offer. Do you know why Villa Valmarana ai Nani is ranked as one of the top attractions in the city even though it was not designed by Palladio? Do you know what the most traditional and local food of Vicenza is? Do you know where the most amazing viewpoint in the city is? The answers will be revealed in the next post, my fourth and last post about Vicenza.