Palladio & Co.
Andrea Palladio really is a true archi-star in the history of western architecture.
He has remained so over the course of the centuries throughout a large part of Europe and North America, so much so as to be the only architect in the world to have left his name as a legacy to an architectural style, the Palladianism (Palladian style). That style is exhibited in various private palaces and important buildings across half the world: the White House in Washington being just one of them …
In Vicenza and its province everything still speaks of him and his works are considered World Heritage Sites.
His most famous works (Basilica, Olympic Theatre, Chiericati and Barbaran da Porto palaces, villa La Rotonda) can be admired when walking through the historic centre and there is an embarrassment of riches in the choice of his villas to visit when wandering around the surrounding countryside.
The first, on the slopes of the Lonedo hill, was chosen by Visconti (the famous Italian Neo-realism director) as the set for the film, Senso. The Barbaro brothers’ villa, frescoed internally by Paolo Veronese, has a place in all the art history books. The Emo is considered the perfect villa, while the Villa Pojana is more in line with the tastes of contemporary architecture. There are also those on the Berici Hills and La Malcontenta, overlooking the river Brenta and close to Venice.
But the Venetian villas are not only constituted by the work of Palladio. On the contrary! There were around four thousand villas constructed in the Veneto countryside during the four centuries of Venetian domination, many with marked practical functions linked to the administration of agricultural property, others used as holiday homes or with self-celebratory roles.
Close to Vicenza, the villas frescoed by the Venetian painter Tiepolo are certainly worth a visit, namely Villa Valmarana and Villa Cordellina. And, a little further away, are Villa Contarini, in the municipality of Piazzola sul Brenta, and Villa Pisani in the town of Strà.
And Vicenza is not just the city of Andrea Palladio. Elegant buildings in the Gothic style stand alongside the splendour of the Baroque Leoni Montanari Palace, which today houses a surprising collection of Russian icons. The Monte Berico basilica commemorates the Virgin apparitions of the Fifteenth Century, while the churches and museums house archaeological finds, along with works by Paolo Veneziano, Bellini, Tintoretto, Veronese, Sansovino, Piazzetta, Tiepolo and Longhi.
No less interesting are the artists originating from the area. Standing out among them are Giorgione, the master of colour who strongly influenced Titian, Jacopo da Ponte, whose workshop was one of the most important during the Veneto Renaissance, and Antonio Canova, the most renowned neoclassical sculptor in Europe, not forgetting the architects who have operated in more recent years, such as Carlo Scarpa and Massimiliano Fuksas.
It may be necessary to travel away from Vicenza in order to admire the works of some of these masters and this would be an excellent opportunity to explore cities such as Bassano del Grappa. The city is cited in Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie for its famous Remondini printing house, and strolling through its narrow streets is a real pleasure: every corner presents unexpected views of the mediaeval village, the Alps and the Brenta river.
Just a few kilometres separate Bassano from Thiene and Marostica, further jewels of our province. The former is famous for its Porto-Colleoni Castle while the latter is renowned for the large marble chess board in its main square and the Scaliger castles which dominate the walled village.
Here, in the past, it was teeming with factories for working the straw and ceramics workshops centred around Nove, the city chosen by the Serenissima (Republic of Venice) as the production centre for earthenware, ceramics and porcelain. Today, these are housed in a museum which holds many more secrets to be revealed.
Albergo Due Mori - Corso Giuseppe Mazzini, 73/75 - 36063 Marostica - Vicenza - Italy - Tel. +39 0424 471777
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