'Vicetia' or 'Vincentia' appears for the first time in ancient sources in 135 B.C., though its origins stretch much further back, and was ruled by the Gauls until 157 B.C. Today the city remains steeped in the presence of Rome, whose spirit has remained in the air throughout the centuries.
Though ample testimony of the Empire's hold can be seen today in the Museo Civico housed in Palladio's sumptious Palazzo Chiericati one's first glimpse is from the centre's road formation. Remains of bridges, temples, the aquaduct and theatre provide further witness of that epic period.
However much the Medieval age has also left its traces, by the Goths, Franks and Longobards, Vicenza's Renaissance age was dominated by the Venetians; and so it is these two faces, of Rome and Palladio, which capture the visitor's gaze.
Though born in Padua, Palladio was adopted by Vicenza, and it was she who allowed his creative genius full rein, thus letting him become one of the greatest artists in history, employing classical themes and spatial harmony enforced through a rigid application of mathematical laws. Many buildings bear witness to this: prominent among them, the Basilica Palladiana, or Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza dei Signori, originally Medieval, restructured by the master in his characteristic style. Other masterpieces include the unparalleled wooden Teatro Olimpico, the Palazzo Valmarana (containing amongst others frescoes by Tiepolo), Palazzo Thiene, la Loggia del Capitanio, the Loggetta dei Giardini Salvi, Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, and the villa La Rotonda. This last is unquestionably the jewel in the crown of Vicenza's Palladian treasures.
Not all the visitor's sights are connected with architecture however: absolutely recommended would be SS. Felice and Fortunato dating from the 4th century, Monte Berico (17th), nestled above the hills dominating the city, and not far from the ancient Gothic church, the Duomo (8th - 13th), the ruins of the so-called Nuova Cattedrale (9th - 10th), S. Maria dei Servi and San Rocco (15th). Not forgetting of course the magnificent countryside dotted with aristocratic villas dating back to various eras.
Known above all for Andrea Palladio's work of the 16th century, Vicenza proudly exhibits the signs of its Roman background.