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Let's visit the Palladium jewels of Vicenza!

August, 08 2019 ( Updated August, 08 2019)

Italy
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Discover the Palladium jewels of Vicenza in Italy...

For architects, heritage fans and design enthusiasts, the building style of Andrea Palladio (1508 – 1580) will certainly strike a chord.

Ornate title page illustration of Andrea Palladio's 'The four books of architecture'

Established in the 16th century, the Palladian style drew inspiration from the classical proportions and symmetry of Ancient Rome. The building era became known as the Italian Renaissance; a style personified by a simplistic, symmetrical exterior and a contrasting, sumptuously decorated interior.

Captivating view of Villa Rotonda

The very best architectural examples are on display in the Vicenza province of Italy, across the beautiful regional landscape of Veneto. All classified now as UNESCO world heritage sites, we have picked our best bunch of Palladian buildings for you to visit - from dilapidated villas to the meticulously restored versions, we have them all-ready for you to explore. Enjoy!

A Palladian balustradeVilla Valmarana

Built by the nobleman Giuseppe di Bernardino Valmarana (between 1542 and 1546), Villa Valmarana in Vigardolo is considered one of the earliest examples of Palladian architecture. The villa offers a vast array of frescoes from different periods for you to take in as you pass through the beautifully proportioned rooms. Today, the distinct early villa hosts corporate and private events; making it a tempting destination for both party-goers and architecture fans.

Villa Caldogno

Also known as ‘Villa Caldogno Nordera’, the 16th century villa in Veneto is attributed to Andrea Palladio. Built in 1570 for the noble Caldogno family and recently renovated, the villa offers beautiful frescoes by Giovanni Antonio Fasolo (who decorated Andrea Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico) and Giovanni Battista Zelotti (who decorated the walls of other Andrea Palladio villas). The villa provides a captivating ambience of a bygone-era.

Ceiling fresco from Teatro Olimpico

Villa Rotonda

Visited by artists, poets, nobleman and statesman alike, Villa Rotonda (otherwise known as ‘Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana’) has always captivated the imagination. Portraying Palladian refinement at its best, J. W Goethe once remarked after a visit to the villa in 1786 that “Perhaps the architectural art has never reached such magnificence”. Located just outside of Vicenza, this landmark villa offers a ravishing example fit for any heritage fan or ardent architect. If you are going to visit just one Palladian jewel, make it this one!

The Palladian-style Villa Rotonda

Villa Forni Cerato

Located in Montecchio Precalcino, this derelict 16th century villa is attributed to Andrea Palladio. Unlike the noble clients of the day, the orginal owner was Girolamo Forni, a wood merchant and cultural enthusiast, who supplied the materials for several Palladio buildings. The modifications on the existing Cogollo house were completed in 1565. The bourgeois villa provides a superb example of a Palladian conversion; where a modest building is transformed into a tasteful monument to style and elegance. Established in 2018, the ‘Villa Forni Cerato Foundation’ aims to renovate and restore the derelict villa back to its former glory, so watch this space for its rebirth!

Olimpico Teatro 

Away from the fine villas of the Vento countryside, the Palladian style held equal prominence in the fine cities of the day. As the world’s oldest surviving Renaissance-era stage set, the Olimpico Teatro in Vicenza is one to visit!

The Palladian masonry stage at the Olimpico theatre

Constructed in heavily adorned masonry and the first of its kind in the world, the unique palatial stage backdrop of the theatre is arguably the star of the show! Built between 1580 – 1585, the Olimpico theatre was the last architectural project for Andrea Palladio, who died in the first year of its construction. The finished work was completed to his original design, and is nothing short of spectacular. The theatre provides a triumphant legacy to the man who brought the Palladian style to the Italian Renaissance. Today, the unique venue hosts live theatre shows and music concerts, so you can still enjoy immersing yourself in the refined opulence of the Palladian era.

Palazzo Chiericati

Designed in 1550 for the nobleman Girolamo Chiericati, and finally completed at the end of the 17th century, this palace in Vicenza promises renaissance grandeur and Palladian proportions at every turn. Notable 16th century frescoes include the works by Domenico Brusasorzi and Battista Zelotti. In 1839 the palazzo was acquired by the Municipality of Vicenza. In 1855 the palazzo officially housed an ambitious civic art collection. It has been home to an excellent art museum ever since.

Statue of Andrea Palladio

Other Palladian gems to pick n’ mix during your Veneto stay include Villa Barbaro Volpi in Maser (Villa di Maser), Villa Pisari in Stra, Villa Emo in Franzolo di Vedelago and Villa Bertolo Valmarana ai Nani.

External view of Villa ai Nani

Whichever Palladian buildings appeal to you, one thing is for sure - the style of Andrea Palladio is as enduring today as it ever was!

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