Vicenza is a fantastic city located in the northern regions of Italy in-between Venice and Verona. As part of the Veneto region of the country, Vicenza has a long history and combines its ancient past together with its modern cosmopolitan outlook and thriving economy to create a city that has the third-largest industrial sector In Italy.
Originally settled be the Euganei tribe, Vicenza was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 157 BC but was then ravaged by various tribes in subsequent years. Afterwards in the Middle Ages, the city became part of the Lombard League and was involved in numerous battles and sieges against the Holy Roman Emperors. In modern history, the city was redeveloped after devastation during WW2 and industry became the main economic driving force. For the enthusiastic tourist, Vicenza has a huge amount of attractions to offer.
Due to its extensive history and affiliation with various ruling empires, Vicenza has a myriad of beautiful historical structures such as the Basilica Palladiana, and some well-maintained public parks such as the Parco Querini. It also benefits from a great location and is within easy reach of both Venice and Verona which are two amazing cities in their own right.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Vincenza:
1. Basilica Palladiana
This religious building is one of the icons of Vicenza and takes pride of place in the centre of the popular Piazza dei Signori.
Constructed in the 15th century, this is one of the first examples of a Renaissance structure to feature the Palladian Window design – the loggia of the Basilica has a series of ornate arches running along both its sides which create a visually appealing building.
Walking through the open arches gives you a chance to admire the architecture up close.
Inside the first floor of the basilica is a huge open room with a high vaulted wooden ceiling and many arched windows.
This structure is truly impressive and is a jewel in the centre of Vicenza.
2. Teatro Olimpico
Vicenza has an affinity with the famous architect Palladio and the Teatro Olimpico is another of his magnificent creations.
This theatre is not like any other you will see and its interior is made entirely of stone, stucco and wood.
The stage is simply wonderful and looks more like a palace than a place of performance – stone statues, archways and plaster work adorn the facade.
Original stage-sets are still in place today behind the main facade and create the ilusion of great depth – as you look through the arches, it appears as if many streets stretch far behind the structure.
3. La Rotonda
Set in elaborate and beautiful grounds, you would not think that this structure was originally meant to be the home of a retired Vatican priest.
La Rotonda is located to the south of Vicenza approximately 15 minutes from the city centre and is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city.
What makes this building so special is its amazing design and symmetry – each of the four sides of the house have a portico that looks similar to the Pantheon in Rome and can be approached by a series of steps.
Inside the building is a series of lavishly decorated rooms complete with beautiful frescos and ornate stucco plaster work.
4. Museo Palladiano
Located in the same complex and square as the Basilica Palladiana, the Museo Palladiano is a must-see attraction in combination with the basilica itself.
Within this museum is a fantastic collection of artefacts and relics relating to the basilica, together with some informative and detailed displays about its history and construction.
Here you can learn about the significance of the building, and also of its renowned architect, Andrea Palladio.
5. Villa Valmarana
Lying in close proximity to the Villa La Rotonda, the Villa Valmarana is a similar structure that was created around the same time period.
A footpath connects the two villas together and it is advisable to visit both whilst you are in this area of Vicenza.
Locally known as Al nani (due to the dwarfed statues on the walls of the villa) this complex has some stunning grounds filled with flower arrangements and beautifully manicured lawns.
Inside the villa itself is a series of well-maintained rooms that features some gorgeous Renaissance artwork by Giambattista Tieplo.
6. Corso Andrea palladio
The Corso Andrea Palladio pays homage to this famous architect and designer and is one of the main streets in the historic old town centre.
Along this street, you can find various pallaces and structure, some of which were designed by Palladio himself.
The most notable structures include the Palazzo del Comune, Palazzo Da Schio, Palazzo Boninand the Palazzo Zileri Dal Verme.
This whole area is brimming with beautiful buildings, but the street also contains a great selection of shops and restaurants and is one of the main retail areas in the old town.
7. Vicenza Museo Civico
At the eastern end of the Corso Andrea Palladio is the stunning Palazzo Chiericati.
This structure features a gorgeous front facade that has a series of marble columns and is crowned with various statues.
Although beautiful in its own right, the main attraction is held within the building – the Museo Civico.
The Civic Museum of Vicenza contains a vast collection of artefacts, archaeological finds and artwork from the city and the surrounding region and provides insight into Vicenza’s history.
Also included is a selection of artwork from renowned Venetian artists such as Carpaccio, Tiepolo and Veronese.
8. Chiesa di Santa Corona
Located in the historic old town centre of Vicenza, this church was partially designed by the legendary Palladio who is actually buried in the church himself.
Created in a Gothic style, the church was built in the 13th century and has a series of brick towers, chapels and front facade.
Whilst the exterior is not overly impressive, the interior has a lot more to offer and features the Valmarana Chapel that is said to have been designed by Palladio.
Furthermore, there is a series of artwork and frescos depicting religious scenes such as the Adoration of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ.
9. Santuario di Monte Berico
In the southern part of Vicenza, the hills climb upwards towards Monte Berico and the Piazza della Vittoria offers panoramic views of the city.
Behind this wonderful viewing platform is the Basilica di Monte Berico that was built in the 17th century.
The actual design of the church is based on La Rotonda and features four symmetrical walls with various statues and ornate artwork.
Inside the church is a series of beautiful paintings including The Supper of St.
Gregory, Pieta and Virgin with your evangelists.
To walk back to the city, it advisable to pass through the immense 800m long covered corridor or portico that stretches from the front of the church, right down to the base of the railway station.
10. Parco Querini
In the northern part of the old town you can find the Parco Querini – this expansive public park is a wonderful place to visit to escape the city and enjoy the fine Italian weather.
At the centre of the park is a large circular pond that contains a central island and a beautiful summer-house – you can reach this island via a footbridge that crosses the water.
Aside from the water feature, the park also contains several wooded areas with walking paths winding through them, and some manicured lawns perfect for playing ball-games or sunbathing.
11. Vicenza Cathedral
Located only a 2 minute walk from the Piazza dei Signori, the Duomo is one of the most important churches in the city and is a fine structure in its own right.
The front facade of this cathedral stands out and creates a large contrast to the sides and rear of the building.
Although simple in design, the arches and the patterned red and white marble work look extremely beautiful and frame the church perfectly.
An interesting fact is that the church is actually built on the remains of three older religious structures, and everything except the front facade has been reconstructed after damage during WW2.
12. Take a day trip to Verona
Vicenza benefits from its close connections to both Venice and Verona and both of these cities are important tourist destinations in their own right.
Verona lies approximately 30 minutes to the west of Vicenza and regular buses and trains travel between the two cities.
If you have explored Vicenza, a day trip to Verona could allow you to explore a different part of Italy.
This city is famous for its historical architecture including buildings such as the Roman Arena, the Ponte Scaligero and the Piazza dei Signori.
Furthermore it has a plethora of stunning churches, and the iconic balcony that gave birth to the famous Romeo and Juliet scene in Shakespeare’s play.
13. Piazza dei Signori
The Piazza dei Signori is the main square within the historic town centre of Vicenza and serves as one of the focal points of the city.
This beautiful square is packed full of stunning architecture and also plays host to regular markets where you can mingle with the locals and try to find a bargain.
In the centre of the square is the impressive Basilica Palladiana and it’s bell tower; other notable buildings surrounding the square include the Loggia del Capitaniato and the Chiesa di San Michele detta dei Servi.
Aside from the buildings, there is also a series of cafes and restaurants where you can simply sit and watch the world go by.
14. Torre Bissara
Although this structure is connected to the Basilica Palladiana, it is a wonderful attraction in its own right and has an extensive history.
Standing at 82m high, it is by far the tallest building in Vicenza and towers over the other structures in the historic town centre.
Constructed in the 12th century, the tower has stood ever since in its current form and is of important historical significance for the city.
On one face is a beautiful ornate clock with a bright blue dial, whilst it is topped with a bronze dome and weather vein.
It is possible to view the tower up close from the outdoor terrace on top of the Basilica but unfortunately, you cannot climb to the top of the tower itself.
15. Ponte San Michele
Due to its location on the river, Vicenza has a series of bridges that cross the water, enabling traffic and pedestrians to move freely through the city.
One of the most beautiful and picturesque bridges is the Ponte San Michele.
You can find this bridge only a short walk from the Piazza dei Signori and it is advisable to walk over the bridge itself, but also view it from the adjacent Ponte San Paolo.
What makes this bridge so attractive is its surroundings – firstly, the terracotta roofed buildings frame the bridge, and secondly the clear waters and the various greenery, trees and flowers add colour and contrast.
This is the perfect place to get some postcard worthy photos.