Vicenza

Vicenza

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Vicenza About this sound listen (help·info), a city in north-eastern Italy, is the capital of the eponymous province in the Veneto region, at the northern base of the Monte Berico, straddling the Bacchiglione. Vicenza is approximately 60 km west of Venice and 200 km east of Milan.

Vicenza is a thriving and cosmopolitan city, with a rich history and culture, and many museums, art galleries, piazzas, villas, churches and elegant Renaissance palazzi. With the Palladian Villas of the Veneto in the surrounding area, and his renowned Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theatre), the "city of Palladio" has been enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.[2]

As of December 2008, Vicenza had an estimated population of c. 115,927,[3] and a metropolitan area of 270 000. Vicenza is the third-largest Italian industrial centre as measured by the value of its exports, and is one of the country's wealthiest cities.[4][5] Especially due to its textile and steel industries which employ tens of thousands and about one fifth of the country's gold and jewelry is made in Vicenza, greatly contributing to the city's economy. Another important branch is the engineering/computer components industry (Federico Faggin, the microprocessor's co-inventor was born in Vicenza[6]).

Main sights

The Basilica Palladiana
A night view of the Basilica Palladiana
The three-dimensional stage at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza
Palazzo Thiene Bonin Longare, designed by Palladio and built by Vincenzo Scamozzi
Porta Castello Tower

In 1994 UNESCO inscribed "Vicenza, City of Palladio" on its list of World Heritage Sites. In 1996 the site was expanded to include the Palladian villas outside the core area, and accordingly renamed "City of Palladio and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto".

Palladio's works

Vicenza is home to twenty-three buildings designed by Palladio. The famous ones include:

  • Villa Almerico Capra (also known as "La Rotonda"), located just outside the downtown area;
  • Basilica Palladiana, centrally located in Vicenza's Piazza dei Signori, of which Palladio himself said that it might stand comparison with any similar work of antiquity;
  • Teatro Olimpico, designed for the Accademia Olimpica and begun to be built in 1580, when Palladio died. The wooden scenes are by Vincenzo Scamozzi;
  • Palazzo Chiericati, home of the Town pinacotheca;
  • Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, home of the Museo Palladio;
  • Palazzo del Capitaniato, home of the Town council;
  • Palazzo Porto;
  • Palazzo Porto in Piazza Castello (unfinished);
  • Palazzo Thiene Bonin Longare (built by Vincenzo Scamozzi);
  • Palazzo Thiene;
  • Villa Gazzotti Grimani, in the frazione Bertesina.

Other sights

Churches

Some of the main historical churches:

  • The Cathedral of Vicenza (church of Santa Maria Annunciata), dating from early in the 11th century, and restored in the 13th, 16th, 19th and after the ruinous destruction of World War II, possesses numerous pictures and sculptures, nearly all of them by Vicentine artists (Cittadello, Celestia, Liberi, Ruschi);
  • The Church of Araceli (1244), by Guarino Guarini, formerly belonged to the Clarisses, contains statues by Orazio Marinali and Cassetti, and paintings by Tiepolo;
  • The Churches of the Carmini (1372) and St. Catherine (1292), formerly belonging to the Humiliati, possess notable pictures;
  • Santa Corona (1260) was built by the Dominicans after the death of Ezzelino, and is pictured by Montagna (The Magdelene) and Bellini (Baptism of Christ); it also hosts the Valmarana chapel by Palladio;
  • Santa Croce (1179);
  • Santi Felice and Fortunato (8th century);
  • Santi Filippo and Giacomo (12th century);
  • San Lorenzo of the Friars Minor (1280), in the Gothic style, contains the tombs of many illustrious Vicentines
  • San Marco in San Girolamo (18th century), baroque church built by the Discalced Carmelites;
  • In the cloister of S. Maria of the Servites (1319) took place the miracles of St. Philip Benizi de Damiani.

Secular buildings

  • The Torre Bissara (clock tower) (1224–1446), 82mt, is one of the tallest buildings;
  • The Biblioteca Civica Bertoliana, public library founded by Count Giovanni M. Bertolo, opened 1708;
  • Casa Pigafetta (1440), house of Antonio Pigafetta;
  • The Pinacotheca Civica houses mainly Vicentine paintings in the Palladian Palazzo Chiericati.

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The great Renaissance architect Palladio left his mark all over this contented city (which has built much of its modern wealth on textiles and computer components). Indeed, Palladio didn’t stop within the city limits, spattering the hinterland with villas for the grand families of the Venetian Republic. Unesco is so impressed that it declared Palladio’s work in and around the city one grand World Heritage Site.

Vicenza flourished as the Roman Vicentia. In 1404 it became part of the Venetian Republic. Testimony to the close ties between the lagoon city and Vicenza are the many Venetian Gothic mansions, not to mention the statues of the lion of St Mark and St Theodore that grace Piazza dei Signori.


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