Tucked away in Northeastern Italy is the glorious town of Vicenza. This largely affluent city is brimming with history and culture in a way that often brings it to life for travelers. Unique celebrations of industries like chocolate and jewelry are just a few of Vicenza’s exciting and unusual activities. Those interested in history and architecture will likely want to spend hours visiting the different churches, museums, palaces, and villas located throughout the area. Whether taking guided tours of the city or simply enjoying the atmosphere while sitting at a local café, Vicenza is a fabulous destination for an Italian getaway or vacation itinerary.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
One of the sweetest events in the city of Vicenza is a multi-day chocolate festival known by the locals as CioccolandoVi. This mouthwatering celebration of chocolate typically takes place each October in the Piazza dei Signori, one of the main squares of the town. If visiting Vicenza during the festival, be sure to save room for chocolate by skipping breakfast. During this event, the town becomes filled with chocolate makers and vendors from all over Italy who come to share their unique chocolatey creations. Dropping by CioccolandoVi is a fabulous way to spend a day in Vicenza.
Also in October is the Vicenza Opera Festival, a celebration of operatic music in one of the city’s most striking performing arts venues, the Teatro Olimpico. The event is known to attract musical talent from across the globe. Although many of the operas performed here are amazing in their own right, the ambiance of the majestic Teatro Olimpico only enhances the overall effect of the music.
One of the best ways to experience a city is to simply immerse oneself in the local culture. The Piazza dei Signori, a main square located in the historic city center, is a fantastic place to start. This square is quite impressive with large cobblestone pavement, and a handful of interesting and bright buildings that feature intricate details, such as ornately arched windows and entryways. The piazza is often home to local markets and is a perfect place to people watch while seated at a nearby café.
The street locally known as Corso Andrea Palladio is frequently referred to as one of the busiest streets in the city of Vicenza, and maybe the most famous. Located in the historic part of town, the street is named after famed architect Andrea Palladio. Appropriately, many of the buildings that line either side of this street are examples of his work. Much like in Piazza dei Signori, Corso Andrea Palladio is a wonderful place to snag some outdoor seating at a quaint café and watch the day unfold.
A fantastic and picturesque outdoor photo opportunity is that of Ponte San Michele. This quaint bridge that arches over a small river, is not far from Piazza dei Signori. By standing atop the center of the bridge, travelers are treated to a peaceful view of the crystal water passing underneath the bridge below, the green grass and shrubbery lining the river, and nearby architectural masterpieces. A picture taken here could be perfect for an annual Christmas card.
Because of Vicenza’s outstanding architecture, seeing the inside of locally designed buildings can be equally amazing in terms of history, detail, and art. As mentioned above, Andrea Palladio was a famous architect of the sixteenth century that is largely responsible for much of the city’s most remarkable structures. This renowned architect’s work includes buildings such as the Basilica Palladiana and the Teatro Olimpico, just to name a few.
The Teatro Olimplico may well be one of the most easily recognizable icons of Vicenza and is designated as a United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. The sixteenth century structure is simply stunning in its design and ambiance. It is said that the theater has one of the oldest surviving stage sets. A trip to Vicenza without a tour of this grandiose theater is akin to not seeing the true Vicenza at all.
The Basilica Palladiana, located in the Piazza dei Signori, is a gorgeous fifteenth century structure. This grand white building features two levels of ornate archways upheld by regal columns. Detailed statues stand proudly along the roof’s perimeter. It is not uncommon for the basilica to host exhibitions throughout the year.
Other key landmarks travelers will want to visit if time allows include the Museo Palladiano and the Vicenza Museo Civico. The Museo Palladiano, is found in the Piazza dei Signori and is dedicated to the works of Andrea Palladio with drawings, models, books, and other objects on display. The Vicenza Museo Civico, also known as the Civic Museum of Vicenza, can be found inside Palazzo Chiericati and features dozens of artistic masterpieces, such as sculptures and paintings.
The city of Vicenza is also widely renowned for is its impressive collection of luxurious villas. A private guided tour of the villas is often the best way to see them as it generally includes a short history of each villa as well as some little-known facts. Some of the villas travelers will likely want to visit may include Villa Capra (also known as “La Rotonda”) and Villa Valmarana ai Nani.
Vicenza’s palaces constitute other must-sees. Some of the most frequently visited palaces can include Palazzo Chiericati, Palazzo del Capitaniato, and Palazzo Leoni Montanari.
With so many imposing and stately buildings and architecture abounding throughout the city of Vicenza, one of the best ways to see them all is a walking or bike tour of the area. These types of activities are usually family favorites. Due to a steady pace, it can be a great physical and cultural activity for the entire family.
By signing up for an organized walking or bike tour, visitors are often privy to interesting background and historical facts about city structures and landmarks. Families can also partake in food tours throughout different areas of the city. The adults in the family may also enjoy wine tasting at local dining establishments, or in the countryside.
Amidst the architectural bliss that the city often evokes in visitors, after a morning of sightseeing young children may be begging to make their way to the Parco Querini. This public park with wide open green spaces is like an oasis of sorts in the heart of the city.
The park features large grassy areas perfect for picnicking, outdoor games, or even a mid-afternoon nap in the sun. If exploring is something the kids enjoy, the park is home to several winding trails, a beautiful fairy-tale-like bridge, and immaculate landscaping.
It is not unusual for park goers to also catch a glimpse of some adorable bunnies that call the area home. A visit to the pond usually also yields a glimpse of ducks floating across the water or turtles sunning on shore. For a fantastic photo opportunity, cross the pond via the bridge to check out the open-air columned temple.
One of Vicenza’s most unique industries is that of jewelry. Many refer to Vicenza as the City of Gold because of the city’s goldsmithing tradition and events held here such as the International Vicenza Gold Fair. The fair, which takes place in September, features some of the most unusual and quality jewelry craftsmanship in Italy.
If you are unable to visit during the Vicenza Gold Fair, you can still plan to take in the finer points of the jewelry industry by visiting the Museo del Gioiello or by shopping for a perfect piece to add to your personal collection that will remind you of your time in Vicenza.
Vicenza is a gorgeous city whether you plan to spend your time outdoors or indoors. With open air markets, local gathering places, magnificent architecture, and lovely green spaces, visitors desiring the full Vicenza experience should plan to spend several days here.
It was wonderful. Definitely one of the best vacations we have ever taken. We spent 5 days in Rome, 5 days in Positano, 8 days in Sicily and
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