Vicenza, midway between Venice and Verona, may not be as well known as its neighbours. However its historic centre is a World Heritage Site, packed full of Palladian architecture. And the city is brimming with museums, cafés and restaurants. So, whether you are visiting for a day or a little longer, what are the top things to do in Vicenza?
Explore The Architecture Of Palladio
For most visitors the main attraction of Vicenza is the buildings designed by Andrea Palladio, one of the most influential architects of all time. Wherever you go in the city you will find the perfect proportions and classical facades that are characteristic of his designs.
In the historic centre don’t miss the Basilica Palladiana or the Teatro Olimpico. La Rotonda (just over 2 km from the centre), one of Palladio’s many country villas, is widely regarded as one of his most perfect creations.
Visit The Museums
There are several excellent museums in Vicenza.
Palazzo Leoni Montanari
The Palazzo Leoni Montanari is a remarkable art museum, housed in a 17th century baroque palace. Here you will find everything from Greek and Roman artefacts to Venetian paintings (including many by Canaletto). A particular feature of the museum is the large collection of Russian icons.
Museo del Gioiello
Vicenza has been famed for its jewel-making since early times, and was particularly prominent in the gold and jewellery trade during the middle ages. This activity is celebrated in the Museo del Gioiello (Jewellery Museum), inside the Basilica Palladiana on the Piazza dei Signori.
This is the only museum of its type in Italy. Collections include historic pieces, religious jewels and modern designs.
Naturally there is a Palladio Museum in Vicenza! You will find this in one of Palladio’s own buildings, the Villa Barbarano. Architecture enthusiasts can see the architect’s writings and discover information about his life and work. Others will enjoy the detailed models of his buildings in Vicenza and the Veneto.
There is also a regular programme of temporary exhibitions.
The Palazzo Chiericati is one of Palladio’s finest buildings in Vicenza, originally built as a grand home for the Chiericati family. Today it houses the Civic Art Gallery, with a mixture of classic paintings and temporary exhibitions.
Quite apart from the paintings, the interior of the palazzo is worth a visit for its architecture and frescoes.
More Things To Do In Vicenza…
As with just about any Italian city, you can enjoy just wandering the streets, admiring the buildings and peering down passageways. Then there is the Corso Andrea Palladio, the main street, which is lined with smart shops, restaurants and classic architecture.
Piazza dei Signori
At the centre of Vicenza, on the site of the old Roman forum, is the beautiful Piazza dei Signori. Buildings around the square include the Basilica Palladiana, the Loggia del Capitaniato and the Chiesa di San Vicenzo. Beside the Basilica is the Torre Bissara, a medieval bell tower and the tallest building in the city. The tower is notable for the unique melody that it plays twice a day (at 11.53am and 5.53pm).
The Piazza dei Signori hosts an open air market on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
You won’t find many Roman remains in Vicenza – what there is can be seen on this website. One of the best sites is the Roman Criptoporticus, a privately owned subterranean corridor that once ran beneath a wealthy villa. Opening times seem to be sporadic – enquire at the Tourist Information Office for details.
Churches In Vicenza
The 15th century Duomo is a Gothic cathedral with a Palladian dome. It contains several important artworks, including a 14th century triptych. Beneath the cathedral are fragments from a succession of earlier churches and a Roman road.
Elsewhere in the city the Dominican Chiesa di Santa Corona also has some notable medieval paintings. And San Lorenzo, on the Corso Andrea Palladio, is an impressive Gothic church.
Walk Up Monte Berico
On the edge of the city, close to La Rotonda, is Monte Berico. Walk up the hill to explore an 18th century arcade, the Sanctuary of Monte Berico, and the Villa Valmarana ai Nani. (The villa is the subject of a curious legend…)
Read more: Exploring Monte Berico, Vicenza
How To Visit Vicenza
- Vicenza is an easy day trip by train from Milan, Verona or Venice. However you may wish to rent a car if you are exploring the Palladian villas and the surrounding countryside.
- English is not as widely spoken in Vicenza as in the major Italian cities. However, you will be able to speak English with staff at Tourist Information and in the ticket offices.
- Private walking tours of Vicenza and the Teatro Olimpico are available.