Vicenza is a fantastic city located in the northern region of Italy, between Venice and Verona. Part of the country’s Veneto region, Vicenza has a rich history, combining its ancient past with a modern cosmopolitan outlook and a booming economy to create a city with the third largest industrial sector in Italy.
Originally settled by the Euganei tribe, Vicenza was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 157 BC, but was overrun by various tribes in the following years. Later in the Middle Ages, the city became part of the Lombard League and took part in numerous battles and sieges against the Holy Roman Emperor. In modern history, the city was redeveloped after being devastated during World War II, with industry the main economic driver. For the enthusiastic traveller, Vicenza has a plethora of attractions to choose from.
Due to its rich history and ties to the various ruling empires, Vicenza is home to countless beautiful historic buildings, such as the Cathedral of Paradiana, as well as some well-maintained parks, such as Parco Querini. It also benefits from a great location with easy access to Venice and Verona, two stunning cities in their own right.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Vincenza:
1. Paladiana Cathedral
This religious building is one of Vicenza’s landmarks and is well-known in the heart of the popular Piazza dei Signori.
Built in the 15th century, it is one of the first examples of Renaissance structure and features a Palladian window design – the cathedral’s loggia is flanked by a series of ornate arches that create a visually appealing architecture.
Passing through the open arches gives you the opportunity to admire the architecture up close.
Inside the first floor of the cathedral is a huge open room with high vaulted wooden ceilings and many arched windows.
This structure is truly impressive and a jewel in the heart of Vicenza.
2. Olympic Theatre
Vicenza has a close relationship with the famous architect Palladio, and the Olympic Theatre is another of his magnificent creations.
This theatre is unlike any other theatre you will ever see, with its interior entirely made of stone, stucco and wood.
The stage is simply fantastic, looking more like a palace than a performance venue – stone statues, arches and plasterwork adorn the façade.
Today, the original stage set still exists behind the main façade, creating an illusion of depth – when you look through the arches, it appears that many of the streets extend far behind the structure.
Set in exquisite and beautiful grounds, you wouldn’t think this building was originally the home of a retired Vatican priest.
Located in the south of Vicenza, about 15 minutes from the city center, La Rotonda is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city.
What makes this building so special is its striking design and symmetry – the house has a portico on all four sides that looks similar to the Pantheon in Rome, and can be accessed via a series of steps.
Inside the building is a series of richly decorated rooms with beautiful frescoes and ornate stucco work.
4. Paladiano Museum
Located in the same complex and piazza as the Cathedral of Paladiana, the Paladiano Museum is a must-see in conjunction with the cathedral itself.
This museum houses artefacts and artifacts related to the cathedral, as well as some informative and detailed displays about its history and architecture.
Here you can learn about the importance of the building and its famous architect, Andrea Palladio.
5. Villa Valmarana
The Villa Valmarana, located near Villa La Rotonda, is a similar structure built around the same period.
A walkway connects the two villas, and it is recommended that you visit both when you are in this area of Vicenza.
Known locally as Al nani (due to the dwarf statues on the villa walls), the complex has some stunning grounds filled with flower arrangements and beautifully manicured lawns.
Inside the villa is a series of well-maintained rooms with some gorgeous Renaissance art by Giambattista Tieplo.
6. Corso Andrea palladio
Corso Andrea Palladio, a tribute to the famous architect and designer, is one of the main streets in the heart of the historic old town.
Along this street, you will find various palaces and buildings, some of which were designed by Palladio himself.
The most famous buildings include Palazzo del Comune, Palazzo Da Schio, Palazzo Bonin and Palazzo Zileri Dal Verme.
The whole area is full of beautiful buildings, but there are also many shops and restaurants on the street, one of the main retail areas of the old town.
7. Museo Civico, Vicenza
At the eastern end of Corso Andrea Palladio is the stunning Palazzo Chiericati.
The structure features an ornate facade with a series of marble columns bearing various statues.
While it is beautiful in itself, the main attraction is inside the building – the Museo Civico.
The Vicenza Civic Museum offers an extensive collection of artefacts, archaeological finds and art from the city and surrounding area, giving you an insight into Vicenza’s history.
Also includes a selection of artworks from famous Venetian artists such as Carpaccio, Tiepolo and Veronese.
8. St. Corona Church
Located in the heart of the historic old town of Vicenza, this church was partly designed by the legendary Palladio, who was actually buried in the church.
Built in the Gothic style, the church was built in the 13th century and has a series of brick towers, chapels and facades.
While the exterior isn’t overly impressive, the interior has a lot to offer and features the Valmarana Chapel, which is said to have been designed by Palladio.
In addition, there is a collection of artworks and frescoes depicting religious scenes, such as the Adoration of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ.
9. Santuario di Monte Berico
In the south of Vicenza, the hills climb up to Mount Berico, and Piazza Victoria offers panoramic views of the city.
Behind this wonderful viewing platform is the Basilica di Monte Berico, built in the 17th century.
The actual design of the church is based on La Rotonda, with four symmetrical walls with various statues and ornate artwork.
Inside the church is a collection of exquisite paintings, including The Supper in St. Petersburg.
Gregory, Pieta and Virgin with your preachers.
To walk back to the city, it is advisable to walk through the 800-meter covered corridor or portico that runs from the front of the church to the bottom of the train station.
10. Parco Querini
To the north of the old town, you can find Parco Querini – this vast park is the perfect place to escape the city and enjoy the wonderful Italian weather.
At the heart of the park is a huge circular pond with a central island and a beautiful summer house – you can reach this island via a footbridge that crosses the water.
In addition to the water features, the park contains several wooded areas with winding walking paths and some manicured lawns perfect for playing ball or sunbathing.
11. Vicenza Cathedral
Just a 2-minute walk from Piazza dei Signori, the Cathedral is one of the most important churches in the city and a beautiful building in itself.
The facade of this cathedral is very prominent, contrasting with the sides and back of the building.
Although the design is simple, the arches and the patterned red and white marble work look very beautiful and perfectly outline the church.
An interesting fact is that the church was actually built on the remains of three old religious buildings, everything except the facade was rebuilt after it was damaged during World War II.
12. Take a day trip to Verona
Vicenza benefits from close links with Venice and Verona, two important tourist destinations in their own right.
Verona is about 30 minutes west of Vicenza by car, and there are regular buses and trains running between the two cities.
If you’ve explored Vicenza, a day trip from Verona allows you to explore different parts of Italy.
The city is known for its historic buildings, including the Colosseum, Ponte Scaligero and Piazza dei Signori.
In addition, it has many stunning churches, as well as the iconic balcony where the famous Romeo and Juliet scene from Shakespeare’s plays was born.
13. The Lord’s Square
Piazza dei Signori is the main square of Vicenza’s historic city centre and is one of the focal points of the city.
Packed with stunning architecture, this beautiful square also hosts regular markets where you can mingle with the locals and try to find bargains.
In the center of the square is the impressive Paladiana Cathedral and its bell tower; other notable buildings around the square include the Loggia del Capitaniato and the Chiesa di San Michele detta dei Servi.
In addition to the buildings, there is a series of cafes and restaurants where you can sit and watch the world go by.
14. Torre Bisara
Although the building is connected to the Cathedral of Paradiana, it is a wonderful attraction in its own right and has a rich history.
At 82m high, it is by far the tallest building in Vicenza, towering above other buildings in the historic city centre.
Built in the 12th century, the tower has remained in its current form and is of great historical importance to the city.
On one side is a beautiful ornate clock with a bright blue dial topped with a bronze dome and weathered pattern.
The tower can be seen up close from the outdoor terrace at the top of the cathedral, but unfortunately you can’t climb to the top of the tower itself.
15. Pont San Michele
Because of its location on the river, Vicenza has a series of bridges that span the water, allowing traffic and pedestrians to move freely through the city.
The Pont Saint-Michel is one of the most beautiful and picturesque bridges.
You can find this bridge just a few steps from Piazza dei Signori, and it is recommended that you walk across it, or view it from the neighboring Ponte San Paolo.
What makes the bridge so appealing is its surroundings – firstly, the terracotta-roofed buildings frame the bridge, secondly the clear waters and various greenery, trees and flowers that add colour and contrast.
This is the perfect place to get some postcard-worthy photos.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Vicenza, Italy
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