Visit Italy | weekend in Vicenza
I told you about a perfect weekend in Europe, Budapest for example.
But now Emma we’ll tell you about visit an italian jewels, a city who will conquer your heart.
Are you looking for an unusual location in Italy for a romantic weekend or a city break? Do you want to relax but maintain a high cultural profile? Are you looking for a combination of slow food and quick drinks in the main square?
There is a small town in Veneto (Italy), easily reachable by train or by car that could do for you. Entirely UNESCO heritage since 1994, the cradle of Palladio and internationally recognized for the annual gold fair, as well as home to one of Italy’s largest US military base … does it ring you a bell?
It’s Vicenza, the hidden gem between Verona and Venice, rich in history, legends and small magical corners. Goethe, Fogazzaro and Piovene are just some of the famous writers who have been fascinated by it, and with this brief article I hope you will be fascinated too.
Visit Italy | When to visit Vicenza?
It’s a cute little town all year long but there are 3 moments in which it shines at its best:
– First week of July: with the American army base celebrating the Independence Day (4th July) there is the possibility to visit the inside and admire some splendid fireworks, eating some junk food;
– In autumn: when the rich vegetation is surprisingly colorful, and the foliage catches the eye in every park in the city;
– During the Christmas break: the city is filled with little markets, Christmas lights and cultural events and it is never too crowded to have a relaxing walk.
How many days should you stay in Vicenza?
In one day, you can sightsee quite a lot but it takes at least two days to discover all the wonders.
It is possible to consider some trips outside to the nearby Bassano, Val Leogra, Busa della Rana if you have 3 days or more available.
Visit Italy | Where to stay in Vicenza?
There are various options for all budgets, these are my favorites:
– Low cost but nice: Olympic Hostel in Piazza Matteotti
– 2-star hotel with a spa bookable entirely for two people: Palazzo Otello 1847
– 3-star hotel 10 minutes walk from the center in a quiet neighborhood: Hotel Doge
– 4-star hotel: Glam Boutique Hotel
– Newly opened hotel: Palazzo Scamozzi directly overlooking the main pedestrian street.
What to eat in Vicenza?
The typical breakfast of the Vicenza’s area is a brioche and cappuccino in one of the four Bolzani pastry shops, although in reality there are many others that are truly excellent.
Between a visit and a hike it comes the pre-lunch aperitif time, which usually consists of a spritz, a some chips and two olives in any bar, or a delicious savoury tart at Da Renzo. The most typical lunch can be found at Righetti’s where you can taste Vicenza’s dishes among rustic furnishings and exposed bricks. It is a self-service restaurant in a stunning 17th century building.
In the late afternoon a spritz in Piazza dei Signori is a must have, in one of the many bars that overlook it. Among the most popular bars I cannot fail to mention the Bar Borsa which is located under the Palladian Basilica and is ideal in case of bad weather, Bar Illy for the abundant snacks and the bar Alle Colonne for the view. Dinner is fine in any trattoria or restaurant as long as you taste some other typical dishes such as cheeses from the near mountains (Asiago) as an appetizer, “risi e bisi” or “bigoi with duck” as main course and the cod that is the absolute excellence of Vicenza (baccalà). Finally, a taste of Bassano’s grappa, a very strong liquor, will transform you into a proper Vicenza’s guy.
Visit Italy | What to visit in Vicenza?
In order to enjoy the city without an indigestion of art, I advise you to divide your visit into two parts:
- The parks, villas and sanctuary of Monteberico:
This is the part of the visit that requires comfortable shoes and a great desire to walk or a bus map and some tickets that you can easily find at the train station or wherever they sell newspapers.
– Parco Querini: small green lung with delicate temples and sculptures that emerge between streams and ponds, ideal for a little jog or to read a book in absolute peace.
– Villa La Rotonda: a futuristic Palladian project from the 1500s, as well as an architectural work that is so fascinating to become the inspiration for other iconic buildings such as the White House in Washington DC (USA).
– Villa Valmarana ai Nani: one of the few non-Palladian Venetian villas but still rich in history, legends and wonderful frescoes by Tiepolo.
– Sanctuary of the Madonna of Monte Berico: located on the highest point of the city, it offers a breathtaking view of the Po valley, the hills and surrounding mountains. It can be reached on foot from the station via a very steep but suggestive road or more easily by bus.
– Museum of the Risorgimento and of the Resistance: once you reach the summit of Monte Berico you cannot miss this little hidden gem and its welcoming garden.
- Vicenza between history and art:
For this second half of your city-break I recommend starting from Piazza dei Signori where you can visit:
– The Palladian Basilica: National Monument symbol of Vicenza, it frequently hosts noteworthy international exhibitions. In some periods of the year it is possible to access the terrace for a very romantic aperitif, but I recommend checking the opening hours online.
– The Loggia del Capitaniato: defined as the pinnacle of Palladio’s career that remained partially unfinished.
– Church of Santa Corona: continuing towards Corso Palladio you can find this Catholic church nearby with some of my favorite paintings, including Giovanni Bellini’s masterpiece “The Baptism of Christ”.
– Palazzo Chiericati: it is an art gallery dedicated to the artists of Vicenza from 1500-1600, located in Piazza Matteotti.
– The Olympic Theater: least but not last as well as the oldest covered stable theater of the modern age. It is one of the most deceptive sensory experiences, when you look at it it feels to be in front of a of meters of stage when in reality it is only the result of the mastery and perspective precision concentrated in 12 meters of stage.
After having visited all these masterpieces, it is easy to understand how due to its particular architecture Vicenza has had a very strong influence on urban planning and architectural rules in most European countries and in the world.
Like any city of the old Serenissima Republic, it also offers the charm of getting lost wandering around but always finding yourself in the main square that makes it romantic and mysterious at the same time.