A treasure chest of wonders concentrated in a few handfuls of miles, this is Berica Land,
a collection of rare and precious gems, set in a priceless background: the landscape of the Berici. The main protagonist of this environment is Nature: green lawns, trees and woods alternate with vineyards and olive groves, in a succession of valleys, hills, small plateaus, streams and canals.
This territory is spread just south of the City of Vicenza, the Pearl of the Renaissance, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, thanks to the wonders imagined by Palladio, who right here in the Berici built some of his masterpieces, such as La Rotonda and Villa Pojana.
There are plenty of villas of different ages, which can be admired in this patch of land, together with fine examples of rural art, monasteries, churches and fountains. The man had almost always been able to respect and value these elements while settling in collected villages, grafting here their homes and activities.
In addition to the interest of art and culture the Hills are the perfect place for sports activities and excursions, cycling, hiking, climbing, and even paragliding.
Also the cuisine of the area is fine and sophisticated, and optimizes and uses the fruit of the generous Berici soil: ham, truffles, wild herbs, peas, pumpkins, not to mention the wines and distillates, always appreciated by the inhabitants and today highlighted by an exquisite and excellent culinary and wine offer.
Here is the Berica Land, hospitable and unexpected, ready to surprise you.
The medieval castles which front each other on
the hills of Montecchio Maggiore bring back the
memory of the feud between the Capuleti and
the Montecchi families, and the two lovers made
famous by Shakespeare, but invented by the Vicenza-
born Luigi da Porto.
The first castle is the Castello della Villa, or
Romeo’s Castle, built by Cangrande II della Scala
in 1354 and dismantled by the Venetians in 1514.
What remains are the perimeter wall with the
donjon and the tower, which are the background
of theatre performances and summer events.
At a distance of few hundred meters, a little
above, we find the Castello della Bella Guardia,
or Juliet’s Castle, more spectacular because its
reconstruction allowed the builders, among other
things, to place a restaurant inside.
Every year there is a historical event, set at the
time of Romeo and Juliet. From its terraces we
have a fantastic view on the plain and up onto the
COLLI BERICI, “BERICI HILLS”
“Berici Hills” are often called mountains because of their typical morphological aspects; they form a rocky ridge with a delicate perspective towards the south of Vicenza.
These hills are located between “Euganean Hills” and “Lessini Mountains”; at the same time, Berici Hills fascinate the visitors and they offer an amazing view, out of time and immersed in the nature, near the center of the city.
The highest point of the Berici Hills is reached by “Lungo Mountain” with his 445 metres which is remarkably lower than “Venda Mountain” (600 meters) in the Euganean Hills. The differences between the two groups are also caused by the form of the hills and by the nature of the rocks: the Euganean Hills are formed by trachyte whereas the Berici Hills are formed by limestone.
In the Vicenza’s Berici Hills, there is a particular and curious climatic difference compared with the surrounding plain: in fact, in the south area there is the presence of Mediterranean vegetation wheres in other areas, there is the alternation between green spaces and high rocky walls.
Visitors can choose between natural itineraries, charming walks in the countryside or in the thick woods. In the area of Arcugnano, it is possible to walk among “Lake Fimon”, a little lake full of flora and fauna beauties . Thanks to a recent partnership with the Municipality of Vicenza , it is also possible to fish.
The Lake is reachable from the cycle path that begins in front of the “Arco delle Scalette”, in the city center.
Along the cycle path in the “Riviera Berica”, there is a place in the city of Mossano where cycle tourists can feed and relax themselves, surrounded by the beauties of the landscape.
In the Berici Hills, the main product is wine: here, in these vineyards are produced red wine such as “Cabernet”, “Merlot”, “Tocai” and “Barbarano” and white wine such as “Garganego”.
"Life+ Colli Berici" HERE
Map available at tourist office (€ 1,00): link
TOURIST OFFICE BARBARANO VICENTINO
Piazza Roma, 37 36021 Barbarano Vicentino Tel. 0444 788335
IL Lago di Fimon
Lake Fimon is one the most ancient lake of Italy and at the same time it is not a reclaimed area. The specific and particular characteristics that the lake presents, make it very intriguing under different points of view, both anthropological, historical and environmental.
Lake Fimon is the oldest lake in the North of Italy and his period of formation dated back at the ice age because of the closure of the valley; on the other hand, the town of Fimon is more recent: more or less, the formation of this little town dated back at 35000 years ago.
From the Neolithic period (3700-3500 a.C.), stilt house were found in that area and these pile dwellings were studied by Paolo Lioy, a naturalist of Vicenza. At the time of the Romans, there were the presence of “villas”, used as farms or retirements for the most glorious soldiers. During the Middle Age, the valley was covered by water and the “Big Lake of Vicenza” was formed. Around the years 1100-1200, the Lake Fimon and the extensive wood near it, were under the property of the City; there is also the proof that at that time, the lake was plenty of big fishes and other marine creatures. Between 1350 and 1400, there was an increasing of the population and the Municipality of Vicenza was no more interested in the wood’s area, preferring the zone of “Monte Berico” and neglecting the Lake Fimon’s area. The interest for the lake recommenced during the middle of XIX century thanks to the studies of the naturalist and scientist Paolo Lioy. During the following century, especially between the 1963 and 1970, the town of Fimon and the city of Vicenza made considerable public interventions to make more touristic this zone immersed in the green countryside. This particular quiet and green area is full of flora and fauna creatures, characterized by the typical moist and humid environment.
Alders, willows and poplars are near the lake whereas in the proximity of the riverbank there is the presence of water-lilies, water caltrops and buttercups. Swans, ducks and various species of birds dominate the surface of the Lake Fimon but on the other hand pikes, shrimps and perches control and govern the marine surface.
Thiene is a lively busy town of more than 21,000 inhabitants, and dates back to Roman times. It was developed around a "castrum" and in Medieval times was transformed into a castle to defend the village and protect the local church: "Pieve di S. Maria". In 1281 the “Thiene Irrigation Ditch” was dug, and numerous craft workshops and craftsmen’s homes opened along its banks. A castrum, a castle and its parish church, a road and an irrigation ditch are those vital factors that gave life to Thiene. Its lucky geographic position and important road network for traffic from the Veneto Region, the Tyrol and beyond have all helped its growing prosperity.
Thiene became part of the Veneto Republic in 1404, which gave it the security and peace it needed to develop its economy and spread the arts and cultures. Markets, rural in medieval times and Free in 1492, then weekly every Monday, Festivals (St. John Baptist and the third Monday in October), workshops and stores all became the nerve centre for business for the town and larger territory. Members of noble Vicenza families, middleclass merchants, artisans and professionals all invested money into buying, reclaiming and irrigating the land, trade, building work which would all change and enrich the appearance of streets, squares and corners of the town.
The old St. Mary’s Parish Church became the town Church, beautiful villas and palazzos were built with their own private chapels (Villa Porto-Colleoni-Thiene and Palazzo Cornaggia) smart noble homes, important factories and farms. Thiene gradually grew over the years, showing its genuine spirit and cultural, artistic and social soul in the dynamic and busy area that surrounds the town.
Still today Thiene is a valid example of the Veneto model, being a reference centre for the social and economic fabric of the northern part of the province of Vicenza.
Built by the architect Serlio between 1640 and 1650; the square contains the fountain with the coat of arms of the town and the Civic Tower.
VILLA PORTO-COLLEONI NOW THIENE
The villa was built in 1476 but incorporates certain buildings from a previous period. The XV century frescoes by G. B. Zelotti and G. A. Fasolo are very interesting. The stables built in 1710 by the Architect Muttoni are also worth mention.
Dedicated to S. Gaetano, it was built in 1300 and restored in 1630. The current appearance is due to the baroque period, with the dome and some internal fittings. It now houses the Sacred Art Museum.
CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY
This building is from the end of the XV century, inside there are canvases, frescoes, sculptures and a sarcophagus from the same period.
Built in 1905 it is a lovely example of Italian Liberty. It houses the Civic Picture Gallery.
SANCTUARY – CONVENT MADONNA DELL'OLMO
Dating back to 1530 and restored in 1954, it conserves canvases, frescoes, sculptures and mosaics. The Cloisters are also very interesting.
THE FREE MARKET OF 1492
Market traditions in Thiene date way back, if we consider the historic quotes it seems that in 1259 numerous people went to the weekly town market. However it was in 1492 that, thanks to the merits gained on the Rovereto battlefield, the Republic of Venice granted the qualification of “Free market”, i.e. a considerable increase in trading was granted.
Every two years, on the first Saturday in October a very enthusiastic celebration is held with a realistic historic commemoration that began in 1992 to celebrate 500 years from the concession. Since 1997 however, on the first Sunday of October a Free Market of 1492 is set up. The people from Thiene and the surrounding areas are involved in a mix of work and fun; the event reproposes the ancient customs and flavours, reviving forgotten habits and recipes. The personalities wear refined renaissance costumes, designed and made by the volunteer dressmakers of the Historic Commemoration coordinated by the Thiene Tourist Promotion Office.
If you want to do any shopping, when you enter the Market the current currency must be changed at the money changers’ with the "colombine", ancient coins from the “Land of Thiene”.
A date with history, traditions and folklore that displays and exalts the entrepreneurial roots of this “Land” guaranteeing the visitors have a magic return to the roots.
First week in October, Historic commemoration and renaissance market - Info: THIENE TOURIST PROMOTION OFFICE tel. 0445 369544 - Comune tel. 0445 804906
Lonedo di Lugo
Villa Godi Malinverni is one of the first buildings of Andrea Palladio and dates back to 1540. Its design was published by the architect in the treatise "The Four Books of Architecture", although there are several differences between the built structure and the drawing: note, for instance, how the windows are distributed and the presence of a pediment not realized.
The interiors were frescoed by three artists of si0teenth century Veronese tradition.
Battista Zelotti decorated most rooms paintings muses and poets, e0alting the classic Gods in the room of Olympus and Venus and Cupid in the adjacent room. Whereas the walls of the hall show the scenes of the fights between the emperor Alexander the Great and the Persian king Darius and of Jupiter's passions for Ganymede and Europe. Gualtiero Padovano is undoubtely the weakest of the painters working here, as it can be seen in Putto's room.
There are also two important collections of pictures and fossils in Villa Malinverni. The picture-gallery shows some masterpiece of the nineteenth century Italian art: there are pictures of Cremona, Hayez, Induno, Michetti, Tofano and even Segantini.
Villa Piovene Porto Godi. The structure of Villa Piovene Porto Godi stands few steps from Villa Godi Malinverni. According to some historians its central body is ascribed to Andrea Palladio and dates back to 1539-40.
The facade shows a jutting pronaos with si0 olums of Ionic order crowned by the triangular pediment adorned with statues.
In the eighteenth century Francesco Muttoni conceived the two lateral side-houses, the long staircase and the gate.
The garden is enriched by a lot of statues ascribed to Orazio Marinali or, more probaly, to sculptors from his circle. Muttoni also designed the pincers-shaped staircase that leads to the lofty floor and cuts the base of the pronaos. Built in the fifteenth century St. Jerome's chapel added to the Villa. A large park developed along the pre-mountain slopes is of national interest.