Named for the first time by sources in 135 BC, Vicenza is another of the numerous artistic cities in Veneto and throughout Italy, famous above all for having encouraged and nourished the talent of Andrea Palladio, considered the greatest architect of his time. During Roman domination the city was organised according to the layout of the Roman Castrum. The decumanus maximus, currently Corso Palladio, crossed the town from west to east and corresponded to the Via Consolare Postumia. The importance of the city was also confirmed in subsequent eras. Under the Lombards it became the seat of a duchy, in the Middle Ages a free commune, subsequently coming the dominion of Venice and then of Austria, until 1866, the year of the third war of independence. In 1994 Vicenza was included within UNESCOs world heritage list, as the Palladian architectural heritage is considered to be of universal value and a major influence on world culture.
The city and its monuments
Here we mention some of the main sites worthy of interest, all of which bear clear signs of the intervention of Palladio: the central Piazza dei Signori is dominated by the Basilica Palladiana, a medieval construction which the architect renovated in the 16th century; other buildings in the town include the Loggia del Capitanio, Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, Palazzo Chiericati, home to the Civic Museum, Palazzo Valmarana and the wooden Teatro Olimpico, an incomparable masterpiece. However, Vicenza also has other equally important aspects. The Roman origins of the city have left their mark, above all in the layout of the town, by now combining with more recent expressions of lesser architecture from Veneto. The old streets, bridges over the watercourses, magnificent squares and extensive artistic heritage contained in the museum underline the great cultural value of the city of Vicenza.
The geographical area
The countryside around Vicenza is worthy of closer attention, not only for its attractive gentle landscape but also for the villas scattered over the area, sumptuous residences constructed by the Veneto aristocracy from the 15th to the 18th century. Some of incomparable beauty, others of more modest workmanship and others still returned to their original splendour, they represent the original feature distinguishing the province of Vicenza. At the foot of the tableland of the seven communes, Marostica and Bassano del Grappa are compulsory stops for those who find themselves in the area. Whereas Marostica is remembered above all for the piazza with its huge painted chessboard and for the medieval centre, one of the most important in Veneto, Bassanos greatest treasure is undoubtedly the wooden bridge, designed by Palladio in this material because the elasticity of wood is capable of resisting the impetuous waters of the River Brenta. The Asiago tableland is also worth mentioning as a popular destination for those enjoying relaxing mountain holidays.