Successful, bustling Vicenza has one of the highest average incomes in Italy. To add to its appeal, rolling landscapes provide opportunities for golf, horseback riding, and tennis.
Yet it was not always a place of such distinction. Like other communities in the region, Romans settled it, barbarians destroyed, and it finally eased its way into the Veneto in the 15th century as a member province. And thanks to the influence of the architectural wizardry of Andrea Palladio (1508-80), Vicenza's importance continued to grow.
Lying equal distance between Venice and Verona, Vicenza is set against a backdrop of mountains. Vicenza, known as the great Palladian city (from the famous 16th-century architect, Andrea Palladio), is celebrated the world over for its splendid and varied architecture. It also offers visitors elegant shops and cafes. Palladio was responsible for at least a dozen of its city palaces, not to mention countless villas in the surrounding countryside. Palladio's main works include Palazzo Chierati, the Teatro Olimpico and on a hill just outside of town, the famous Villa Rotonda.
The impressive array of Palladian buildings belies the fact that the city was heavily bombed during World War II. Contemporary Vicenza is sleek and smug; the city center, partly bounded by medieval walls, feels a world away from the city's current source of wealth, a "silicon valley" electronics industry.