Each a luxuriant masterpiece: discover Vicenza’s Palladian Villas, a fusion of architectural genius, frescoes and legend.

Spring is the ideal time to spend one or more weekends out of town, perhaps discovering Italy’s more outlying treasures. For example, we have already told you about the splendid Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Te in Mantua, or why Verona and Ferrara are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Speaking of UNESCO, today we wish to suggest another Italian gem awarded the prestigious recognition, easily accessible for a spring day of art and architecture that the whole world envies us. We are talking about the Palladian Villas of Vicenza.


Luxury residences immersed in luxurious surroundings

The 24 villas now scattered among the provinces of Padua, Treviso, and Vicenza take their names from the Renaissance architect Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, known as Palladio.

They were the residences of Veneto’s aristocratic and upper-middle-class families and were designed according to a new approach to noble country estates. The Palladian Villas, in fact, were not only a place of leisure for the gentry, but were primarily centers of agricultural production. In fact, each villa was surrounded by vineyards, fields and included warehouses to preserve the harvest.


ville palladiane vicenza villa trissino

© Sergio Zeiger via Flickr

As with all Renaissance architecture, the Villas were inspired by the elegance and simplicity of classical Greek buildings evident in the Doric columns and triangular pediment at the entrance.

Precisely this amount of innovation, and this ability to combine elegance and functionality, inspired much of the civil architecture of the following centuries. Each of them has a story of its own that distinguishes it from the others: let’s have a look at three of the most beautiful Villas, all in Vicenza.


Art and legend at Villa Valmarana ai Nani

Located not far from the city center, Villa Valmarana ai Nani alone is a great reason to visit Vicenza. One of the largest Villas, it consists of three buildings-a detached main building, guest quarters, and stables – all set in a lush Italian garden.

ville palladiane vicenza villa valmarana ai nani

© Alexandra Karchevskaya via Flickr

Its great prestige also derives from its frescoes by Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, masterpieces of the eighteenth century, and from a curious legend: it is said that dwarf daughter of owner Giustino Valmarana had servants, also dwarfs: just like those reproduced in statues and placed on the villa’s boundary walls.

You can visit the Villa in person every day, from 3 March to 4 November: you can find all the details here.


Villa Almerico Capra, Goethe’s favorite

ville palladiane vicenza villa capra la rotonda

Also known as La Rotonda, Villa Almerico Capra has been visited by poets and artists, the likes of Goethe, who described it thus, “Perhaps never has architectural art reached such a degree of magnificence” (the German man of letters and the Veneto region must surely have had an elective affinity, also considering his love for the Botanical Garden  of Padua).

With its geometric forms perfectly in symmetry and harmony with each other, the Villa was commissioned from Palladio by Monsignor Paolo Almerico and built around 1570. Today it is owned by the same Valmarana family and has been open to the public since 1986.


Villa Trissino and the birth of genius

Although not designed by Palladio, Villa Trissino is at the origin of his myth. Indeed, it was on the construction site of this villa that the humanist Giangiorgio Trissino first met the young man: sensing his talent and potential, he took charge of his training as an architect and gave him the name Palladio.

To Vicenza with Italo

Barely two hours separate you from the Palladian Villas, if you leave from Milan, and even less from other cities in Veneto and Lombardy: discover the many trains to Vicenza that take you to the city every day! You can also start from Salerno, Naples, Rome, Florence, Bologna and Reggio Emilia: what are you waiting for?