You can choose to visit the museums with COMBINED CARDS, the Vicenza Card (10 sites) or the 4 Museums Card, or with single museum tickets.
The Vicenza Card is valid for 8 days from the day of issue and it gives access to 10 sights (one access for each site):
Teatro Olimpico, Civic Art Gallery of Palazzo Chiericati, Natural History and Archaeological Museum, Risorgimento and Resistance Museum, Santa Corona Church, Diocesan Museum, Palladio Museum, Gallerie d'Italia - Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Basilica Palladiana (exhibitions excluded), Jewellery Museum.
The 4 Museums Card is valid for 8 days from the day of issue and grants the access to 4 sites of your choosing from the ones included in the museum network.
You can buy the cards in the following offices: Tourist information office IAT (next to the entrance of the Teatro Olimpico) - Gallerie d’Italia Palazzo Leoni Montanari - Palladio Museum - Diocesan Musem - Jewellery Museum - Basilica Palladiana.
The museums are always closed on Monday.
Palladio’s design was made a few months before his death and he would not see the result; his son Silla oversaw the works and handed the theatre over to the town in 1583. The first performance on Carnival 1585 was memorable; its subject was a Greek tragedy, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, and the stage design reproduces the seven streets of the city of Thebes, which can be seen in the five openings of the proscenium through a clever game of perspectives. The creator of this little wonder inside the wonder is Vincenzo Scamozzi. The effect was so impressing, the wooden structures became a stable part of the theatre. Scamozzi was also asked to create accessory spaces: the “Odeo”, the hall where the meetings of the Accademia took place, and the “Antiodeo”, decorated with monochrome panels by the fine Vicenza painter Francesco Maffei.
The Basilica palladiana
The most significant building is the Basilica, the core of which is the ancient Palazzo della Ragione of the Late Gothic period, with its loggias built byAndrea Palladio starting from 1546. At the ground floor we find some goldsmiths’ shops, which keep the historical vocation for trade of the town alive, as well as some venues for exhibitions.
A marble staircase of the late fifteenth century leads up to the upper loggia, from which we reach the hall with the characteristic copper roof, shaped like an inverted hull of a vessel. The picture of the Basilica is completed with the Torre di Piazza bell tower, also called Torre Bissara because it was erected on a defence structure of the powerful Bissara family. It is 82 metres high, with a square base of seven metres and a considerable inclination. The basilica, a prime example of Palladio’s architecture, stands in the most representative place in town, which embraced the great architect and saw him grow: the Piazza dei Signori, the former Roman Forum and the Medieval public place. The building we are talking about is the so-called Palazzo della Ragione, the ancient seat of the civil authorities. At the end of the 15th century it was decided to surround the original Gothic building with a double order of loggias, to embellish its image. This first initiative went wrong in the worst of ways, with a collapse after only two years after the inauguration, and some more forty years were needed for the Town Council to make up for the embarrassment. On the list of architectural counsellors were Sansovino (1538), Serlio (1539), Sanmicheli (1541) and Giulio Romano (1542). As it sometimes happened with too controversial issues, an inside solution prevails: Andrea Palladio, the young architect grown in the shadow of the humanist Gian Giorgio Trissino, who with his important contacts played a crucial role in submitting Palladio’s name to the Town Council. It is actually Palladio who gives the building a name true to his beliefs: Basilica, like the place in ancient Rome where politics and the most important businesses were run. At the age of 38 Palladio gets his first public commission, which, besides the generous and prolonged payment (5 ducats per month for the rest of his life), makes him officially the architect of Vicenza.
To put his plans into practice, however, he has to wait for three years more, until 1549, until the city’s government’s doubts are dispelled. Palladio’s design is based on the repetition of the Serlian window, made of an arch with a constant size flanked by two rectangular openings of variable size, thus able to absorb the different sizes of the bays, most of all at the corners of the building (this scheme was named after Sebastiano Serlio, who published it in a treatise on architecture in 1537). The material used was white stone from Piovene Rocchette, a place at the foot of the Asiago high plateau; it was a unique event because the quarry was completely emptied for this purpose. The cost of the building was exceptionally high: 60,000 ducats, apportioned over 65 years, because the works ended in 1614, 34 years after the architect’s death. As for the later events regarding the Basilica, we must remember the effects of the bombings during World War II, which demolished the building.
During the last 50 years the Basilica was used for shows and sport events, namely basketball games, when the female teams of Vicenza lead the national championship in the 1960es-70es. In recent years it has mostly been used for exhibitions, apart from the goldsmiths’ shops at the ground floor. In 2007 and 2008 important renovation and reinforcement works were carried out, which implied, among other things, the rebuilding of the arches that support the famous vault. The museum dedicated to the Jewellery was opened in 2010.
The piece of architecture which adds dignity to the Piazza is the Palazzo Chiericati, of 1550, the year Palladio gave the designs to Girolamo Chiericati. It is the most spectacular civilian residence designed by Palladio, today seat of the Vicenza Town Museum. It was purchased in 1838-39, then renovated and finally turned into a museum and opened in 1855.
The museum presents itself as one of the greatest art collections of the Veneto, with some of the most important works. Especially the picture gallery offers an overview of the art scenario of the sixteenth century, useful to explain the relationship between figurative arts and the architecture of the time. Particularly interesting are, first of all, the painters of the so called “School of Vicenza” of the Renaissance: the founder Bartolomeo Montagna, Giovanni Buonconsiglio, Marcello Fogolino and Giovanni Speranza. As for the sixteenth century, we have a remarkable work by Paolo Veronese, Palladio’s favourite artist: “Madonna and Child with Saint Peter and Saint Agnes”, but also works by Vittoria, Fasolo, Maganza and others of Palladio’s periodic collaborators. The survey goes on up to Tiepolo, showing also the followers of Palladian architecture.
In the Department of Prints and Drawings sketches and designs signed by Palladio, Scamozzi and are kept.
It is worth remembering that in front of the Palazzo Chiericati Palladio also built the Palazzo Piovene in 1569, exactly where the river Bacchiglione flows into the river Retrone; it was a contribution to right up the harbour area which Palladio supported warmly. The palace was demolished to build the town slaughterhouse.
Civic Art Gallery of Palazzo Chiericati
Piazza Matteotti, 37/39 - Tel. 0444 222811
It is the most spectacular civilian residence designed by Palladio, today seat of the Vicenza Town Museum. The museum presents itself as one of the greatest art collections of the Veneto, with some of the most important works. Especially the picture gallery offers an overview of the art scenario of the sixteenth century, useful to explain the relationship between figurative arts and the architecture of the time. Particularly interesting are, first of all, the painters of the so called “School of Vicenza” of the Renaissance: the founder Bartolomeo Montagna, Giovanni Buonconsiglio, Marcello Fogolino and Giovanni Speranza. As for the sixteenth century, we have a remarkable work by Paolo Veronese, Palladio’s favourite artist: “Madonna and Child with Saint Peter and Saint Agnes”, but also works by Vittoria, Fasolo, Maganza and others of Palladio’s periodic collaborators. The survey goes on up to Tiepolo, showing also the followers of Palladian architecture.
In the Department of Prints and Drawings sketches and designs signed by Palladio, Scamozzi and Calderari are kept.
Natural History and Archaeological Museum
Contra' S. Corona, 4 - Tel. 0444 222815
The Natural History and Archaeological Museum, housed since 1991 in the area of the cloisters of Santa Corona, is divided into two sections: Naturalistic and Archaeological. The first is devoted to the illustration of the characteristics of the territory, especially that of Berici, while the second one collects the most significant archeological aspects of Vicenza and its province.
Risorgimento and Resistance Museum
Viale X Giugno, 115 - Tel. 0444 222820
Free entrance to the public
The Ambellicopoli hill, the site of the museum’s Villa Guiccioli premises, was where the heroic resistance of 1848 took place. The people of Vicenza defended the city from here. The mementoes in the collections provide interesting evidence of historic events from the time of Napoleon’s first Italian campaign in 1796 to the end of the Second World War and the fight for liberation (1945). This one and a half century period transformed the political, social, economic and moral nature of Italy and Europe several times.
Contrà Porti, 11 - Tel. 0444 323014
Palazzo Barbarano, one of the most beautiful Palladian urban dwellings, houses the Palladio Museum that accompanies the visitors on an emotional tour inside AndreaPalladio’s life and time, to discover Palladio’s masterpieces in Veneto region. Designed in 1569 by Andrea Palladio in the mannerist style that was typical for his late period. The façade has nine bays, richly decorated with festoons. It was commissioned by Montano Barbaran, who had the same great plans as Palladio’s other noble clients, and put a central plot of land at the architect’s disposal, with the task of blending the buildings on the plot to one palace worth of his ambitions.
The first thing we notice is that the atrium is out of centre, a forced solution (the client had purchased another building at an advanced state), but this does not alter the serenity of the work. The view at the entrance is very impressive: a series of Serlian windows is implemented, to support the upper hall with a cross vault and to compensate the different existing walls with flat planks. Actually, the Palazzo Barbaran is the only palace in Vicenza which was finished according to the design. Among other things, it is the building with the most important purpose: it is seat to the international centre for architecture studies “Andrea Palladio” (Cisa) and the Palladio Museum.
Galleries of Palazzo Leoni Montanari
Contrà S.Corona, 25 - Tel. 800 578875
This important Baroque palazzo rises in the final stretch of the Contrà Santa Corona. It was commissioned in 1623 by a family of rich wool and silk traders. It reveals very suggestive interiors, like the spectacular Loggia d’Ercole or the frescoed gallery “Galleria della Verità”.
It houses three permanent art collections belonging to the Bank: the first floor exhibits nuclei of vases, selected from the large Attican and Magna Graecia pottery collection, splendidly decorated with painted images. The same floor houses eighteenth-century Venetian paintings, from the ironic custom scenes by Pietro Longhi to the airy paintings by the “vedutisti” , who depicted the natural and architectural splendours of Venice and other cities. The second floor is dedicated to Russian icons, which take the visitor through a historic, artistic and spiritual route with the strength of their colours and fidelity to the antique models.
Piazza Duomo, 12 - Tel. 0444 226400
The residence of the bishop of Vicenza is a sober Palladian building of the beginning of the nineteenth century, rebuilt after its destruction during the Second World War, faithful to the original. Remarkable features are the stylistic details taken from Palladio (intersected semi-columns that mark the main body between the side bodies) and from Scamozzi (the combination of semi-column and corner pillar at the ends.
The building has a four-arch porch, above which there are eight windows, with windowsills and parapets made of finely decorated Nanto stone. The museum houses a collection of memorabilia of ancient Christianity, of the Church of the High and Early Middle Ages, as well as a collection of sacred vestments, sacred jewellery and religious paintings from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. It features an extraordinary ethnographic section with artefacts from all continents and an exceptional collection of round shaped minerals. In the basement there is the archaeological area with remains of a tower of the high Middle Ages.
Church of Santa Corona
Contrà S. Corona - Tel. 0444 222811
Free guided tours in Italian and English are available for smartphone and tablet users.
Magnificent Dominican Church in the form of a Latin cross was founded by the Dominicans to preserve the relic of the Holy Thorn, donated by the king of France Louis IX in 1259 to the bishop Bartolomeo da Breganze. It is presented to the public on Good Friday. Palladio was buried in this church in 1580; in mid- 19th century his remains were moved to the Temple of Fame at the Cimitero Maggiore, where the famous people of Vicenza rest. The interior is austere and solemn, with three bays and a presbytery designed in 1480 by Lorenzo da Bologna.
The Valmarana Chapel was designed by Palladio in 1567 but a very remarkable thing is the church’s artistic heritage: in the third chapel on the right, the Adoration of the Magi by Paolo Veronese, of 1573; in the chapel at the back of the right bay, The Saints Peter and Paul and Pius V Worship Mary, a work of art by the early Venetian Giovanni Battista Pittoni of 1723; the greater altar of 1669 with marble marquetry by the Florentine Francesco Antonio Corberelli; the fifth altar of the left bay shows The Baptism of Christ, a masterpiece of the late Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini (1427-1516). The whole surface of the grand complex of the high altar is covered with inlays of polychrome marble, pieces of lapis lazuli, corals, carnelians and mother-of-pearl.
The Dominicans were driven out in 1810, following Napoleon’s suppression, and the church became propriety of the town council. Today the adjacent monastery is the seat of the Museum for Archaeology and Natural Sciences.
Palladian Basilica, ground floor Piazza dei Signori, 44 - Tel. +39 0444 320799
The first one in Europe and one of the few museums in the world exclusively dedicated to jewellery and the art of the goldsmith. The Jewellery Museum, a permanent museum space located in the Basilica Palladiana, is a Fiera di Vicenza project created in partnership with Comune di Vicenza. The Museum offers an unusual aesthetic experience in exploring jewellery, and promotes a very ancient object that is deeply rooted in human culture. Curated and directed by Alba Cappellieri, Professor of Jewellery Design at Milan Polytechnic and the main scholar of jewellery in Italy, presents the visitor with a scientific and educational trail set out on two levels. The innovative staging, designed by the international designer Patricia Urquiola, and the coexistence with the Palladian Basilica donate to the Museum a high artistic value. The curatorial choices have a very strong impact, and aim to reinstate the semantic complexity of jewellery from very disparate viewpoints, introducing the visitor to an awareness of different values and contents and, at the same time, of Vicenza as an authoritative cultural centre of jewellery.
Sanctuary of Monte Berico
Viale X Giugno, 87 - Tel. 0444 559411
The Basilica of Monte Berico is one of the greatest centres of Marian devotion in Italy, as well as an extraordinary monument, both for its architecture and its wealth of artistic objects. In front of the sanctuary there is the Piazzale della Vittoria, which opened in 1924 to commemorate the fallen of the First World War. It is 110 meters long, about 60 meters large and bordered by a stone balustrade, which lists the most important elements of the extraordinary panorama, starting from the mountain tops where the Great War took place.
The sanctuary overlooks the town from the first elevation of the Colli Berici and rises on the spot where the Madonna is said to have appeared to a peasant woman in 1462. In order to host the believers, an oratory was built, which after only a few years was to become the heart of the Gothic church that can still be seen at the rear of the complex. This building was expanded following a central plan scheme with about 12 meters per side during the sixteenth century, and it is ascertained that Palladio intervened as designer. This building was demolished at the end of the seventeenth century, to erect the present Baroque temple on a cross plan, the architect being Giacomo Borella; the building now rises before the fifteenth-century church, almost hiding it.
On the inside, the attention is drawn to the revered statue of the Madonna della Misericordia (Madonna of Mercy), by Nicolò da Venezia (1430), at the altar of the older church. Worth mentioning are the paintings, e.g. the masterpiece “Pietà with Saint Joseph, Saint John and Mary the Magdalene” of 1500, by Bartolomeo Montagna. What remains of the Palladian features are the north-east altar with the “Coronation of the Virgin” by Giulio Carpioni, and the huge painting of the Madonna appearing to the podestà (governor) Grimani, above the architrave that divides the two churches. In the refectory of the ancient monastery we find the spectacular “Supper of Saint Gregory the Great”, a big painting by Paolo Veronese of 1572, cut into 32 pieces by the Austrians in 1848. It has been restored in Vienna on their own expenses and brought back here in 1858.
The Roman Cryptoporticus
Piazza Duomo, 6 - Tel. 347/9426020
On the outer side of the Piazza a low building gives access to the so-called Roman Cryptoporticus, remarkable archaeological evidence of the original town. At the time of ancient Rome a cryptoporticus was a gallery or covered passageway used to surround a public or religious building, to connect parts of an architectural complex or to store weapons or foodstuffs. The cryptoporticus that came to light on the south side of the Piazza Duomo has a U-shaped, three-armed structure with a barrelvaulted ceiling and a number of splayed windows turned towards the inside. Due to features, like the refined marmorino plaster, it is believed that it was an arcade connected to a luxury house of the 1st century B.C., facing the valley of the river Retrone. The discovered finds are kept in the archaeology department of the Museum Santa Corona.
Palazzo Thiene - CURRENTLY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
Contrà S. Gaetano Thiene, 11 - Tel. 0444 339989, 0444 339216
The palace stands on the Contrà San Gaetano Thiene, one of the central side roads of the Corso Palladio, in the part of the town opposite the Piazza dei Signori. The year before he went to see Rome with his mentor, the conte Gian Giorgio Trissino, who had a great influence on his architectural culture. Thus, it can hardly be a coincidence that his clients, the Thiene brothers from one of the most powerful families of Vicenza, are sophisticated people who are in contact with the highest ranking people in culture. The Thiene family had considered taking up an entire block in the historic town centre, with a view on the Corso, and involved one of the most famous architects at that time, Giulio Romano (1492-1546), who mostly worked for the Gonzagas in Mantua, but was in Vicenza in 1542 for advice on the Basilica and very likely to hand in a rough design of the Palazzo Thiene.
When he died prematurely, Palladio, the rising architect, was now fit to replace him. The building shows characteristic features of both architects. Romano typically arranged the atrium with four columns and the lower part of the facade, while the trabeations and capitals on the piano nobile are clearly Palladian. This goes for the only completed part of the complex, which overlooks a side road of the Corso: the death of one of the clients and other events damp the enthusiasm about a building which would, without any doubt, have caused a sensation and aroused envy for its unusual dimensions. For stylistic comparison see the villas Palladio designs the same year: Villa Caldogno, Villa Gazzotti, Villa Pisani, Villa Thiene and Villa Valmarana. The palace, bought in 1872 by Banca Popolare of Vicenza (Popular Bank of Vicenza), is today the historical seat of the Credit Institute and hosts its ancient art collection. The recent restoration of the basement must be mentioned.
Palazzo Valmarana Braga Rosa
Corso A. Fogazzaro,16 - Tel./ fax 0444 514397, cell. 347 7204658
The Palazzo Valmarana stands in the Corso Fogazzaro, a few meters from the junction with the Corso Palladio, the main street in the historical town centre. It is first monument that catches the eye and stands at n. 16. It was built by Andrea Palladio in 1565. It is typical because of the use of monumental architectural order of six bays, with intense light and shade effects, devised to place visual emphasis on the building, despite the restricted visual angle. In the building in front of it (n. 15), a plaque and a medallion mark the birthplace of the humanist Giangiorgio Trissino, who played an important role for the beginning of Palladio’s career.
The palace was commissioned in 1565 by one of the most famous families in town, the Valmarana family, who had supported Palladio’s work from his beginnings. The design presented in the Four Books of Architecture is an abstract concept of the real situation, in which the architect has to tackle an uneven plot of land, not wide enough to create the spectacular courtyard. Another handicap is the limited road width, which forces a very narrow angle on the onlooker. To compensate these hindrances, Palladio finds a solution which makes the Palazzo Valmarana the turning point of his idea of civil architecture. After designing his first Venetian churches, the architect applies a giant order to the building, which covers all his height: six composite pillars on a high ashlar base, inside which he puts a minor Corinthian order, which frames the openings and the decoration panels. The result is an intense light and shade effect, which is very effective inside the limited perspective. A subtle feature must be mentioned: two figures of Roman soldiers, with the emblem of the Valmarana family, which the architect puts on the high top of the facade, ideally to watch over the palace.
The Cathedral and The Underground Archeolgical Site
Piazza Duomo - Tel. 0444 325007
The Cathedral has a history of more than 1,500 years. It was erected starting from 1430 in the Gothic form it still has today. A characteristic feature is the façade of 1467, with polychrome marble and blind arcades, attributed to Domenico da Venezia (1445-80). The building has one bay with side chapels and a tall presbytery. The Renaissance apsis was added by Lorenzo da Bologna (1466-1507). Palladio reportedly made changes in the dome (1558-66) and in the portal (1563) on the present Contrà Lampertico, but the architect’s name is also mentioned in connection with the tomb “Sepolcro da Schio” (1538) in the fifth chapel on the left. Among the decorations we find outstanding works: in the third chapel on the right, the Adoration of the Magi by Francesco Maffei (1605-60); fifth chapel on the right, the Dormitio Virginis, a polyptych of 1536 Lorenzo Veneziano (not. 1350-72); in the choir, a precious marble altar of 1541, surrounded by 12 huge seventeenth-century paintings called “Paramento Civran”; fifth chapel on the left, the Crowned Madonna, a sculpted altarpiece by Antonio da Venezia (not. 1429-58); forth chapel on the right, The Virgin and Child with the Saints Mary Magdalene and Lucia, by Bartolomeo Montagna (1450-1523). In the subsurface there are traces of former churches of the 5th, 6th, 11th and 13th century, as well as remains of an access road to the Roman Forum.
Church San Lorenzo
Piazza S. Lorenzo, 4 - Tel. 0444 321960
In the centre of the Piazza San Lorenzo stands the monument to the poet Giacomo Zanella (1820-1888), a priest who was Fogazzaro’s spiritual guide. The piazza is named after the church San Lorenzo, a remarkable example of Gothic architecture, which presents his splendid ogival portal, flanked by four baldachins.
The building goes back to 1280 and has a typical Gothic aspect. The focal point of the bayed façade is the wonderful portal with the pointed arch, characterised by its strong splay and rich sculpted decorations; in the lunette is the Madonna with the Child, Saint Francis and Saint Laurent, the latter introducing the client, by Venetian artist Andriolo de’ Santi (1344). On both sides we find the tombs of four famous people, protected by ogival baldachins. The interior, with a nave and two side aisles and strictly Gothic, has been embellished by several interventions over the centuries. In the right aisle on the counterfaçade we see the Madonna with the Child between the saints Sebastian and Antonio Abate, a remarkable hautrelief made of stone of 1475-1480. On the back wall of the right transept we see the spectacular altar “Pojana” of 1474, which unites elements of different origin. On the right side of the greater chapel there are two extraordinary paintings by Francesco Pittoni: The Presentation of Mary in the Temple and Christ’s Farewell to his Mother, created in the middle of the seventeenth century. On the left wall of the greater chapel there is the monument to Leonardo da Porto, of 1564, set as a temple, for the design of which Palladio had been considered, and the monument to Iseppo da Porto, of 1572, with the urn guarded by two warrior figures. In the chapel left to the presbytery we find the tomb of Bartolomeo da Porto, of the beginning of the fifteenth century, with the urn and the figure of the deceased protected by a baldachin. Near the church is a suggestive cloister of the late 15th century.
Chiesa dei Carmini
Corso Fogazzaro, 254 - Tel. 0444 321345
Beyond The junction with the line of the ancient boundaries, the Corso Fogazzaro preserves long stretches of arcades and offers views of the town as it was in the centuries gone by. At number 105 a plaque marks Fogazzaro’s birthplace. Going on, we reach the wide stretch of the church Chiesa dei Carmini, in Gothic style, with its characteristic white and pink facing. Further on, we see the road pass under the Porta Santa Croce at last and go on in north-west direction towards Schio, joining the state route n. 46 “del Pasubio”.
The church Chiesa dei Carmini overlooks the wide stretch that opens the outer stretch of the Corso Fogazzaro, not far from the Porta Santa Croce. The church is a marvellous Gothic building, erected around 1375, typical because of the two-coloured outer covering.
What strikes the eye is the decoration, starting from the marble representation in the lunette of the side portal, the Madonna with the Child between Saint Albert and Saint Paul, by the German Johann Baptist Krone (XVI-XVII cent.). Inside we see valuable ornamental bas-reliefs of the late fifteenth century and some important paintings: at the first altar on the left, the Madonna on the Throne between Saint Sebastian and Saint Rocco, of 1535, by Benedetto Montagna; at the second altar on the left, Carrying the Dead Christ, by Jacopo (1510-92) and Francesco Bassano (1540-92); at the third altar on the right, Eternal Father and Dead Christ, by Paolo Veronese (1528-88).
Viale Rumor – Contrà Chioare - Viale Rodolfi - Tel. 0444 222148
The Parco Querini stretches out in the north-eastern part of the old town centre. It is defined on two sides by the banks of the river Bacchiglione and his tributary, the river Astichello, just after the Ponte Pusterla, and on the third side by the line of the Venetian walls, along the present Viale Rodolfi. The park takes its name from the Palazzo Querini, which fronts the Contrà San Marco, and from which a straight road starts, that, once crossed the Asticello, stretches out into the green, along with statues and sculptures of the eighteenth-century school.
The end of the walk is the pond, in the middle of which a round island has been created. On its top we find a small Ionic temple, a fine neoclassical piece of architecture of 1820. In the background we see the white church of Araceli and the mountains of the Vicenza area. A part of the garden has been arranged in the 19th century according to the romantic taste.
Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana "La Rotonda"
Via della Rotonda, 45 - Tel. 0444 321793, 333 6409237
The original of Palladio’s most famous villa stands in the suburbs of Vicenza, on the state road n.247 “Riviera Berica”, which runs south towards Noventa Vicentina. Palladio designs it in 1566 for the canon Paolo Almerico, who after leaving his brilliant career at the papal court, comes back to his birthplace and prefers the quiet countryside to the family palace.
However, it will take forty years, at the end of which both the architect and his client will pass away, for the brothers Odorico and Mario Capra, who took over the property, and the architect Scamozzi, Palladio’s spiritual heir, to finish the works. It is no coincidence that the villa stands on top of a hill, in the countryside that stretches out from the banks of the river Bacchiglione to the Colli Berici. The image is the image of a temple-villa, almost cubical, with façades bearing a pronaos with majestic Ionic colonnades and triangular tympanums, topped by a dome which at the beginning was planned like the Roman Pantheon, and should be opened by an oeil-de-boeuf, but then was squashed and closed. The service buildings are not only separated from the villa, but also hidden from view, behind the hill.
From this point of view it is important that the Villa Rotonda has been inserted into the volume of the Four Books of Architecture which is dedicated to the palaces, more a suburban residence than a country house and farm. Its basement is dedicated to the service rooms, and the piano nobile is arranged around a majestic circular hall which takes up the whole height, hence the name “Rotonda” (round), with access corridors and corner rooms on two levels (on the upper floor, the author’s intention was to turn them into a sort of covered passageway).
The romantic park is also remarkable; it opens up to the cultivated land all around. This residence has been imitated many times over the centuries, particularly in England.
The Villa Valmarana "Ai Nani"
Via dei Nani, 8 - Tel. +39 0444 321803
The villa Valmarana rises on the Colle di San Bastian, the soft ridge that overlooks the road “Riviera Berica” on one side and the so-called Valletta del Silenzio (Valley of Silence), described in Fogazzaro’s novels, on the other side, against the background of the Colli Berici.
The villa gets its nickname “ai nani” (dwarfs) from the sculptured dwarfs with eighteenth-century clothing, lined up on the perimeter wall. Legend has it that they were the guardians of an unhappy young girl. The building complex was erected in the seventeenth- eighteenth century.
It consists of three buildings standing on an oblong piece of land: the large colonnaded atrium with the stables; the guest quarters on a single level, with a hall surrounded by a few living rooms; the villa, preceded by a flight of steps, has the typical scheme with a central hall with four smaller corner rooms.
The villa is mostly famous for the frescoes painted by the Tiepolos: father Giambattista (1696-1770) frescoed the villa with mythological and epic subjects, his son Giandomenico (1727-1804) instead frescoed most of the guest rooms with different subjects, from carnival scenes to scenes with eastern atmosphere. Inside the villa Valmarana ai Nani we can admire a portrait of Andrea Palladio.
.... and the Oratorio of San Nicola, the churc of Santo Stefano, Palazzo Cordellina ...
See here opening times and rates of villas, monuments, churches of Vicenza and its surroundings!
Tourist Office – Piazza Matteotti, 12