Thematic routes

Gothic in Vicenza

GOTHIC in Vicenza developed in a very significant manner, and was first of all marked by the enlargement of the city itself, through the addition of fortified walls at the time of the domination by the Carraresi (1266-1311) and, later on, by the Scaligeri (1311-1387) followed from 1404 by the Venetian Republic.True masterpieces of gothic architecture - both civil and religious buildings - were erected as part of this renewed urban dimension.


The Palazzo della Ragione was built in gothic style in the XV century in the heart of the old town, in the ancient zone of the Roman Forum and on the foundations of the Palazzo Comunale (Town hall). It was planned by Domenico da Venezia, and re-echoed the Palazzo Ducale in Venice.

In earlier times, but as ever linked to the success of Gothic in the city, the Dominican, Franciscan and Eremitic Friars erected some splendid buildings at the end of the XIII century: respectively The Temple of S. Corona in the east, an exceptional interpretation of Cistercian Gothic; the Church of S. Lorenzo, in the north, a blend of Romanesque and Gothic; the Church of S. Michele in the south, demolished in 1812. In 1323, the Augustinian erected the Badia di S. Agostino (an abbey) in the valley under the Berici hills. It was funded by the Scaligeri and by the noblemen of Vicenza and Verona.

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The late Gothic complex of Monte Berico (1428-1467) was built just outside the walls. It now stands beside the celebrated Baroque Sanctuary. Precious gothic paintings, sculptures and goldsmithery articles can be found inside these churches: in Santa Corona, founded by Beato Bartolomeo da Breganze in 1260, we find the Arc of Marco Thiene, with the fresco by Michelino da Besozzo (active from 1388 to 1450) and also Madonna con il Bambino, Santi e Offerente, further the painting Madonna delle Stelle, produced by Giovanni da Bologna in the second half of the XIV century; there is also the famous reliquary of the Sacra Spina, a context of precious stones with fragments of the Cross and Crown of Thorns, donated by the Louis IX King of France to Beato Bartolomeo da Breganze, Bishop of Vicenza from 1265 to 1270. The interesting marriage between painting and sculpture is at the root of other gothic creations: the Stone altar piece of Vicenza, by Antonino da Venezia, depicting the Madonna with Infant Jesus between Saints Peter and Paul, in S. Lorenzo; another painted and gilded stone altar piece, by the same artist, is housed in the Cathedral, a large XV century building reconstructed following bombing in 1944-1945.Another work by Da Venezia, originally in the Church of S. Peter, can be found exhibited with other works of the period, in the Civic Museum of Palazzo Chiericati.

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The following are preserved in the S. Agostino Abbey: a Polyptych by Battista da Vicenza, with its cursive narration in miniature style; a wooden Crucifix by Antonino da Venezia; a precious cycle of frescos, in the Presbytery, depicting Stories of the Virgin and Evangelists. Another stopping point is the Church of S.Maria delle Grazie, where one can admire an interesting Madonna con Infant Jesus, a sculpture by and anonymous artist working in Venice in the thirties of the XV century.
This elegance leaves its mark in many Gothic Palazzi, erected in Vicenza, especially in the XV Century, to celebrate the dominion of the Venetian Republic, which led to a marked economic recovery in addition to fruitful cultural contacts.
Some exceptional stone and marble cornices, as well as sculpted and decorate windows and portals, proudly show their refined decorative repertoires.It is convenient for visitors to visit the gothic buildings, by sub-dividing them into two distinct itineraries:
- the first covers the zone to the right of the main street axis, Corso Andrea Palladio, with the Ponte degli Angeli behind you;
- the second is on the left. Starting from the first itinerary, the route could start from the Boccalotti Oratory, in Piazza S. Pietro, proceeding to Palazzo Regaù and crossing into Via XX Settembre.
From there, after a stop in the Tempio di S. Corona, we proceed toward Palazzo Dal Toso Franceschini Da Schio, known as Cà d'Oro, embellished by the finely sculpted splendid arched lintel of the portal.
As we proceed to Contrà Giacomo Zanella, we note the magnificent Palazzo Sesso Zen and from there we head for Contrà Porti, where the interpretation of Venetian Gothic reaches its high points in Palazzi Porto-Bertolini, Porto-Colleoni and Porto-Breganze.
As we go along Corso Palladio, we are greeted by the view of Palazzo Braschi-Brunello with the medallions sculpted with virile profiles, and Palazzo Thiene.
We can finish this itinerary by visiting the Church of S. Lorenzo in the piazza bearing that name.

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A second route might begin in Piazza dei Signori, visiting Torre Bissara and Palazzo della Ragione, surrounded by late Palladian Loggias.

There is a strong concentration of gothic buildings in the Barche zone, starting from Ospedale di S. Valentino, between vicolo Retrone and Contrà delle Barche. In Contrà Piancoli, Casa Scroffa Polazzo stands out, and nearby we find, close to the panoramic S.Michele bridge, Palazzo Garzadori Braga. We proceed in the quest of the legendary Casa Pigafetta, in the street of the same name, and go on toward Contrà Paolo Lioy, to enjoy the view of the elegant prospect of Palazzo Garzadori Fattore. In nearby Contrà SS Apostoli we note the interesting façade of Palazzo San Giovanni and of Palazzo Squarzi Serini, concluding our pleasant walk with Palazzo Arnaldi Segala in Contrà Pasini.

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Equally important gothic works can be found in the Province. The following are housed in the Museo Biblioteca Archivio museum in BASSANO DEL GRAPPA: a wooden crucifix by Guariento, signed, and probably dating after 1332; a 'torn' fresco painted by Battista da Vicenza, showing The mystic wedding of S. Caterina; fragments of the Crucifixion; a precious panel with Madonna with Infant Jesus by Michele Giambono.

In BREGANZE at the Casa Mater Amabilis, which originally belonged to Naimerio da Breganze, son in law of Ezzelino da Romano III, we can examine an interesting Frieze with vegetal motifs, puttos and zoomorphic subjects, from the V-VI decades of the XV century.

In NANTO, in the Presbytery of the church of S. Maria, an anonymous fresco painter in the Michelinian sphere, painted the fresco depicting the Announcement to the Shepherds and the Saint.

THIENE has some excellent surprises in the Church of S.Vincenzo, containing the frescos of the Presbytery Chapel, commissioned by the Thiene family, and painted by a follower of Michelino da Besozzo; in Giovanni Badile there are another two pictorial works: Story of the life of S. Vincenzo and Adoration of the Shepherds.

In ZUGLIANO, in the church of S. Maria, we should mention the fresco from the early XV century, depicting the Madonna on the Throne with Infant Jesus and the Saints Chiara and Marta by a Veneto painter.

Near to Zugliano, in the outlying hamlet of Grumolo di Pedemonte, we find, in the church of di S. Maria Maddalena, the precious polyptych of S. Biagio, with its beautiful gold. In the Centrale hamlet, in the church of S. Clemente, an artist from the Veneto sphere, produced an interesting Crucifix (1442) in wood painted with tempera.

Another stopping point should cover the village of VELO D'ASTICO, Seghe hamlet, where, in the XV century church of S.Giorgio, we can admire an elegant Polyptych (1408) by a Verona painter of the XV century, to decorate the lunettes and Vault of the Chapel of S.Antonio of the Conti Velo nobles. The scenes reproduce the hagiographic episode which was most successful at the time, i.e. the one depicting S.George killing the dragon; the other episodes are: the Crucifixion; the Nativity, the Resurrection; Christ in the Sepulchre and Figures of the Evangelist.

We finish our tour, stopping in ARZIGNANO, an outlying hamlet of Castello, at the church of S. Maria ed Elisabetta, to admire the Altar piece sculpted by Nicolò and Antonini da Venezia, Madonna on the Throne with Infant Jesus (1425), and the well known Polyptych by an artist in the squarcionesco sphere, subdivided into 14 compartments arranged over two registers, with a magnificent frame in gilded and painted wood.

Through Antonio Fogazzaro places

Il Consorzio Vicenza è ha realizzato un depliant che intende accompagnare il visitatore attraverso i luoghi di Fogazzaro, individuando le frasi più significative tratte dai suoi romanzi e legate per l’appunto a quei luoghi.

Il volantino è in distribuzione presso gli uffici turistici, si può sfogliare da questo link sfoglia oppure scaricare come file pdf.

Itinerario nei luoghi di Antonio Fogazzaro

Romantic itineraries

What is romantic in our times? Mossy atriums and falling flowers? Villas? The great scenarios?...

We depart on this sentimental voyage from Vicenza's ancient heart. The eye follows the spirals of the river, crosses ancient bridges, pauses on the palazzetti with their precious artistic inserts: this is the rione Barche where at one time the barges moored, as they headed from the sea and lagoons along the Bachiglione river. We rediscover the echo of the Venice of the merchants in the flowery gothic of the windows and front doors, in the porticoes and galleries which once were stores, and in the shadowy vaults from which genuine voices still emerge.

Basilica dei Santi Felice e Fortunato - Vicenza San Valentino (Saint Valentine)
Then we leave the village, where stands the Basilica dei Santi Felice e Fortunato. Here, since 1922, a relic of Saint Valentine, patron of those in love, has been honoured with a nice feast. To tell the truth, the tradition of the Feast of S. Valentine in Vicenza as been repeated for 500 years and was transferred to the Basilica of Saints Felice and Fortunato following the deconsecration of the church of S.Valentine - we can appreciate this church's façade at No. 54 of Corso San Felice (now occupied by Lanaro Arredamenti).
Over 1,730 years have passed since that 14th of February, the day of his death, and the cult of San Valentine, the healer bishop of Terni, is still alive. He was born in 170 AD and died on the scaffold, at almost one hundred years of age, in 269. Venerated throughout the world as the saint of peace and love, proclaimed by the people as the protector of lovers, he is highly popular all over the world, from Japan to the United States, to Britain and even in Australia. Furthermore, the English Anglicans and the Protestants of the United States were the first to proclaim him protector of lovers, and in countries where the anniversary of 14th February, made official in the last century, is particularly felt.

Villa Valmarana ai Nani Villa Valmarana ai nani - the story of Lajana
Here the dwarfs, turned to stone by sorrow, keep a watch. As legend has it, they were the custodians of a young girl, herself deformed. The choice of the dwarfs was a pitiful expedient to make her believe that she was a beauty in a beautiful court, but all in vain. One day, as she looked out of the window, she saw a splendid cavalier pass by, and was awe-struck by him. But she immediately became aware of her deformity and committed suicide in despair. Her faithful servants, turned to stone, through the sorrow for the death of the young girl, and today receive visitors high above from the walls of the Villa Valmarana.As we proceed toward the rotunda, we reach the Valletta del Silenzio much loved by Fogazzaro and still the destination of moonlit walks, whereas, if we go up toward the Sanctuary of Monte Berico we follow the gentle undulations of the Berici hills where lovers go - now in modern cars - in search of silence and solitude.

Castelli di Giulietta e Romeo The castles of Romeo and Juliet
This is not Shakespeare's Verona, but the village of Montecchio, and the pen of Luigi da Porto, who was a fore-runner in recounting a story we do not know where it took place, if it ever happened at all. However, the two manors which watch each other from the top of opposing hills, invite us to believe that the inspiration for the story of the unlucky young lovers came from here and that another Vicenza monument, Villa da Porto di Montorso, the property of the writer's family, had 'baptised' the work. According to popular belief, Da Porto used to take refuge in the house of Borin the farmer, where these words were written on a tile in the corner room of the first floor: Luigi da Porto wrote the Romeo and Juliet story in this room.

Orgiano Orgiano and the real story of "The Betrothed"
This is the place, in the lower Vicenza area, which is the background to the trial of a young noble from the province, arrogant and violent, backed by a gang, which, together with the cousin lie in wait for the local young women, tormenting them and finally raping them. The documents of the trial of this Paolo Orgiano, suggests some surprising analogies with Manzoni's story, to the point where the documents could be considered as that "faded manuscript" which Manzoni himself indicated as his source. In fact, the novelist was extremely interested in the trial deeds, to which he often refers, and not only in the Betrothed.

Marostica The contention for the beautiful Lionora of Marostica
Our romantic itinerary moves toward the north and reaches Marostica, known across the world for the famous Chess match whereby the two young men, Vieri of Vallonara and Rinaldo of Angarano, challenged each other for the love and hand of the beautiful Lionora, daughter of the Veneto Podestà of that period, Taddeo Parisio (1454).
From 1954, five hundred years after the first challenge, this match, using live chess pieces, involves about 400 participants: almost the entire population of Marostica.

Ponte degli Alpini - Bassano del Grappa ...and lastly... On Bassano Bridge, there shall we hold hands and exchange a kiss of love
We conclude the itinerary on the celebrated wooden bridge by Palladio and of the Alpini soldiers, which, for almost 500 years, has gathered the secrets of lovers who, as the well known song says, exchange a kiss and a handkerchief here, as a pledge of love.


ALONTE - In Corlanzone, S.Valentine is feasted with a three day festival around 14th February.

BREGANZE - In Mirabella there is a church dedicated to the saint, where a Mass is generally celebrated on 14th February. There is a feasting committee which has for many years organised three days of spectacles/shows.

BRENDOLA - There is a Capital dedicated to S. Valentine situated in the via and Contrada of the same name. A Mass is usually celebrated on 14th February. Since 1629 Brendola has feasted the patron saint of lovers. Three days of spectacles/shows are normally organised.

CALVENE - In Prà del Giglio there is a small church dedicated to the Saint.

CAMPIGLIA - In the ancient Parish church of St.Peter (XIII sec.), near Villa Bressan, there is a chapel dedicated to the Saint.

CASTELGOMBERTO - There is a church dedicate to St.Valentine which belongs t the Municipality. It is in good order, and was recently renovated by volunteers of the local Alpini Association. On S. Valentine's day it is normally opened to celebrate Mass.

COSTABISSARA - There is a church dedicated to St. Valentine where Mass is usually celebrated, with the blessing of bread, then distributed to the children who are present.

CRESPADORO - In the Marana hamlet, contrada of the Cortesani, there is an Oratory dating from1776 dedicated to the Saint, well restored an full of frescos, containing a statue of S. Valentine. On 14th February, a festival is traditionally organised and Holy Mass is celebrated.

GAMBUGLIANO - A dinner for couples, including those from outside the town, is organised in the Parish church on S. Valentine's day.

MONTECCHIO - Near the centre of town, there is a church dedicated to St. Valentine which belongs to the Municipality. Here the veneration of the Saint is felt deeply. Moreover, there is a Committee for the Festival of S. Valentine, which for many years has organised an operatic concert in the Parish church of S. Pietro in Montecchio Maggiore.

NOGAROLE - There is an altar piece dedicated to S. Valentine, dating back to about 1400, in the church of Saints Simon and Judas which depicts a mother who hands her epileptic daughter to the Saint.

PONTE DI BARBARANO - In via Crispi, near to Villa Rigon, there is a church dedicated to the Saint where his relics are preserved.

POZZOLEONE - S. Valentine is the patron saint of Pozzoleone. The traditional agricultural fair, now numbering over 250 editions, takes its name from the Saint. There is an old church dedicated to the Saint in via S. Valentine.

ROMANO D'EZZELINO - Regularly organises for 14th February, the 7 or 9 kilometre country Walk of S. Valentine among the Ezzelian hills and vales.

THIENE - In Via S. Gaetano there is a small nobility church. It is always open and can be visited. It houses an altar dedicated to S. Valentine, soldier and martyr.

VALLI DEL PASUBIO - In the Savena quarter, in the small Church of S. Carlo (seats 20) which is opened only on 14th February, when a Holy Mass is also celebrated.

VICENZA - In the city, the traditional feast of S. Valentino has been repeated for about 500 years. The event is held in the Church of Saints Felice and Fortunato i.e. since the Saint's relics and Maganza's painting of the Saint were brought here following the deconsecration of the church dedicated to him.

Jacopo dal Ponte called Bassano

Jacopo dal Ponte, called Bassano (Bassano del Grappa 1510 ca. - 1592) is considered one of the leading figures of the Italian Art of the 16th century. He was initially educated at his father’s workshop, then in Venice at Bonifacio de’ Pitati’s. When he finished his training, he returned to his home town, which he left only on rare occasions for work reasons. Even though he mainly worked in Bassano, collections of his works can be seen in many places in Italy and all over the world, among which London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Budapest, Vienna, Rhode Island, Washington, New York. In 1546 he married Elisabetta Merzari with whom he had eight children, and four of them, Francesco, Giambattista, Leandro and Girolamo were to become, like their father, prolific and inspired painters.

It is only fair that the journey to the discovery of his most famous works preserved in the province of Vicenza starts at the Town Museum of his home town Bassano del Grappa, where the biggest and most important collection can be admired.

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Jacopo dal Ponte - Il Bassano
Jacopo dal Ponte - Il Bassano

Magic Tour


The province of Vicenza is packed with history and rich of art and architecture treasures. But in addition to the history of handbooks and chronicles, there’s the hidden and mysterious history of legends, witches, ogres and fairies. We are referring to the fascinating tissue of what people say and tell, which is what continues to give life to both the salons of the upperclass Vicenza and the meetings in the stables of humbler people to this day.
Considering this local tradition we wanted to offer the “Magic Tour”, a guided tour to places which are interesting both for their artistic value and their nature views, following a map of stories which are still told by the people of Vicenza, and which are brought to life during events such as Hobbiton in Bassano, Natale di Fiaba (fairy tale Christmas) in Thiene, Hogazait – Cimbrian Festival in Roana, Venetian festival of animated fairy tales – Fiabe nelle cave (fairy tales in the quarries) in Rubbio…
New mysterious places are constantly discovered, such as “Le Priare” in Montecchio Maggiore, underground quarries which those who were condemned to death in the nearby castle of Juliet were allegedly thrown into. We look forward to offering you a magical experience!

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Goethe in Vicenza

On 3 September 1786 Goethe left Karlsbad to go to Italy. A sudden departure, in the middle of the night, which many interpret as a 'flight'. The poet left behind the tormented love for baroness Von Stein, with whom however he would exchange many letters, and the many public appointments which distracted him from his literary work. So, to rediscover tranquillity, the poet crossed the Brenner pass with the intention of giving full vent to his inclinations, beyond all protocols. From Verona to Vicenza, and then to Padua and Venice, where he stayed for long; then to Rome, at the apex of his interests, and lastly to Naples, in a voyage which should have lasted only a few weeks, but instead lasted for more than two years. In Vicenza: a stay from 19 to 26 September. He would briefly return there in 1790.

During his week in Vicenza, Goethe was a relieved man, who having freed himself of his boots and other marsh equipment, loved to mix with the people, praising the ways of the men and the uncommon beauty of certain curly brown-haired women. We meet him in the Piazza dei Signori, where the Palladian Basilica stands, the first work of the much admired architect. The diaries return us the nice image of the poet who refreshes himself with a bunch of grapes under the porticoes. Further praise should be given to the impressive 'score' of the Loggia del Capitanato, another Palladian work but created during his mature period. The Monte di Pietà (Pawnbroker's) complex terminates the monumental side. It used to house the Civic Library, which the poet visited render honour to the memory of Bertolo the jurist, who had established it. His admiration for the men of science manifested itself through his visit to the eminent botanist Turra and to the architect Bertotti Scamozzi, direct heir of the Palladian lesson and also the author of "The instructed foreigner", a kind of "Baedeker" of the period.
The visit continues in corso Palladio with the Basilica di S.Corona, whose "Adoration of the Veronese Magi" is highly praised. Further ahead stands the so-called Casa del Palladio, which inspired Goethe with high considerations and the desire to see it included in a painting by Canaletto. Then the corso enters a wider part: overlooking it are Palazzo Chiericati, the most important town dwelling designed by the architect, and the Teatro Olimpico, another of his masterpieces, which Goethe describes with sorrowful tones: "a theatre based on the ancient model, but in small proportions and indescribably beautiful…". Here, Goethe mixing with the public, watches with pleasure a session of the illustrious Olympic Academy. The evening spend by the poet at the Eretenio theatre is completely different: the Rape of the Serraglio is being shown there and the spectators, with no half measures, show that they enjoy the songs.

Just outside the city, Goethe visits the Rotunda, the apex of Palladio's art. The villa, shaped like a temple, dominates the countryside crossed by the Bacchiglione river. "Perhaps the art of architecture has never reached this level of magnificence" the poet considered. The encounter with the paintings of Tiepolo takes place a short distance away, in Villa Valmarana ai Nani: without knowing if the work of the father or son stands before him, Goethe judges the sublime style of the former superior to the natural style of the latter. Then Goethe walks up the under porticoes of the Sanctuary of Monte Berico. He is not impressed either by the Baroque church or by the large canvas by the Veronese painter, which several years earlier had aroused opposing feelings in father kaspar: admiration for the art, scandal in seeing Jesus seated at a sumptuous table. The poet rather remembers a pleasant meeting with a veiled woman. "If only God had willed" - she said in her outburst - "that Palladio had left us the plan of an edifice for the Madonna del Monte….we would have seen things of which we have no idea at present!".




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