For lovers of ancient villas, the province of Vicenza is studded with splendid homes that conserve the beauty and secrets of four centuries of history, from the 16th to the 19th century. The first person to create these priceless architectural works in this Veneto province was one of the most important and famous architects of Renaissance Italy, Andrea Pietro della Gondola, better known as Palladio. Palladios buildings, which changed the face of Vicenza and its surrounding countryside forever, are recognised throughout the world as universal heritage; in fact, in 1994, Vicenza City of Palladio was duly included in the list of World Heritage by UNESCO.
The genial architect designed 17 villas, which are spread throughout the area, on a route between the silent countryside and the fascinating Veneto plain. Villa Trissino, in the town of Meledo di Sarego, above a hill that is cut through by a stream, is unmistakeably his work. Villa Pisani Ferri de la Zara in Bagnolo di Lonigo is striking in its majesty, although the initial project provided a much more complex building than the current one. Built between 1540 and 1544, after a long period of decline, it was renovated and restored to its original appearance, which had been changed over the years due to numerous different interventions.
Villa Poiana in Poiana Maggiore, built around 1550, is considered as one of Palladios most successful works; it looks like a concert of spaces that join interiors and exteriors in a singularly harmonious symphony of relationships. Villa Saraceno in Finale di Agugliaro dates back to the middle of the 16th century: completely renovated after years of decline, inside there is a series of beautiful 16th century frescoes. Along the trunk road to Padova, we find Villa Chiericati in Vancimuglio, while the Palladio work of art par excellence is Villa Capra Valmarana, started between 1566 and 1569 and better known as La Rotonda for the semi-sphere dome roof, initially planned over the central hall. It has four façades that open onto a complete view of the town, it was later adapted by Vincenzo Scamozzi who transformed the original idea.
There are numerous other buildings by Palladio that can be found along the route among the noble villas, from Villa Gazzotti Grimani Curti to Villa Valmarana Scagnaroli Zen, from Villa Valmarana Bressan to Villa Trissino Trettenero, each one rich with architectural and artistic details that recall all the splendour of Renaissance Italy.