Vicenza - Veneto
the countryside of the Veneto begins to swell upward toward the Berici
Hills, halfway along the road from Padova to Verona, you will find
the town of Vicenza. Nestled in the conflux of the Retrone and the
Bacchiglione rivers, it is known both as "Palladio's Town"
and "Mainland Venice." The production of cotton, paper,
gold jewelry and computer components is common. This latest addition
has made Vicenza one of the wealthier cities in Italy.
The prehistoric inhabitants of Vicenza date back to the 9th century B.C. A Roman presence was felt in the area as early the 2nd century B.C. Vicetia, as it was known, was declared a Roman "municipium," or a city of the second highest rank, in 49 B.C.
Under the 15th and 16th century government of the Serene Republic, Vicenza's appearance changed drastically and it earned the name "Mainland Venice." This was due mainly to the work of the famous architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), who fled to Vicenza from nearby Padua at the age of 13. Palladio designed a series of villas for noble patrons that made him architecturally famous. One of his most well-known creations is La Rotunda, commissioned for a papal prelate in 1566. It is situated atop a hill with a dome inspired by the Pantheon and four facades that look out in four directions.
The city was occupied by Napoleon in 1796 and was transferred to Austrian control in 1806. Hopeful for liberation, it participated in the Risorgimento movement, but was not inducted into the New Kingdom of Italy until 1848.
The Teatro Olimpico was begun by Palladio in 1580 and finished by Scamozzi after Palladio's death. A testament to Renaissance architecture, its design was based on Palladio's study of Roman structures. If you walk into the theater you will find a mesmerizing street scene carved into the very foundations of the stage. This miniature city is modeled on the ancient Greek City of Thebes. The theater opened in 1585 and was restored in 1934. In the summer, it is alive with dramas and comedies.
Piazza dei Signori hosts the famous Basilica Palladiana. Created by Palladio, it has been added to by other architects and now stands as a towering monument to Vicenza's history and adaptability. The Duomo, destroyed in WWII then rebuilt, is also found in the Piazza dei Signori, situated southwest from the basilica. The Church of Santa Corona was built in 1261 by the Dominicans to house a relic from Christ's throne and is home to several paintings by renowned artists Bellini and Veronese.
In addition, the Autumn Festivity, held in September, has music and a celebration of the harvest. In October, the celebrations continue with the Festivity of the Baccalà to the Vicentina which honors the gift of fish with the preparation of dried salt cod. Also in October are the Agricultural Fair and the Marronata Folk Fair. The Marronata Folk Fair is held in honor of music and the autumnal harvest, including walnuts and other produce. The Festival of Saint Martino is a day of thanks and an agricultural fare, with handicrafts and extensions of native produce. The Tonezza Winter Festival takes place in December and January and is designed to welcome Christmas and winter.