Vicenza, Bassano del Grappa and Asiago
The genius of Andrea Palladio and the art of nature.
Art, history and nature in one unique perspective: Vicenza is practically an ideal city, a 16th century monument where in fact every historical epoch contributes to its final effect. Palladio provides the most evident and important face of the city, guaranteeing its fame and its title as a world heritage centre. The classical/imperial/medieval geometry lies on the rises and green plain which surround the city, creating a sort of natural amphitheatre. The area around Vicenza surprises by its beauty and variety: our tour explores the principal aspects yet offers a route encompassing lesser-known facets.
Vicenza is an aesthetically perfect city, a priceless jewel among the crown of Venetian art.
A humanist city and megalopolis of culture: our visit necessarily bears this in mind, taking in the multitude of elements, the elegance and grace of its forms and the various historical ages present, spread out along the roads and piazze of Vicenza.
Our first leg takes us to the Palladian Palazzo Chiericati, which in addition to a magnificent display of the genius of the celebrated architect is also the home of the Museo Civico, with inestimable exhibits, evidence of an immense artistic heritage.
This takes us immediately on to the perspective masterpiece of the architect, namely the Teatro Olimpico, itself the pinnacle of artistic scenic representation.
We continue to the central Piazza dei Signori where we can admire the solemnity of the Basilica Palladiano (otherwise known as the Palazzo della Ragione): the edifice which Palladio “appropriated” from the Medieval period to create something truly unique.
The Loggia del Capitaniato bids us farewell to Palladio to embark on a meeting of the spritual side of Vicenza.
Thus we find ourselves on a gentle hill lying to the south of Vicenza: perched on top, reached via a suggestive passageway through cypress avenues, lies the Baroque spectacle of Monte Berico, home to major works of art such as Veronese’s “The Supper of Saint Gregory the Great” and the “Pietà” of Bartolomeo Montagna which we can contemplate immersed in the religious silence which here reigns.
We conclude our tour once again returning to the illustrious Palladio, by a visit to La Rotonda, the most famous of his villas, composed of four perfectly equal façades which stand out among the surrounding green of the countryside.
Bassano del Grappa
From the plain below we move up to the mountains to visit another historical centre of great charm and beauty: Bassano del Grappa.
This village (or better small town) boasts extremely ancient origins, though its present appearance presents mainly Medieval and Renaissance traits.
The central focus lies in the two squares of Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza della Libertà, home to S. Giovanni Battista and the Loggia del Comune, containing frescoes by the most important local artist, Jacopo da Ponte, known as Jacopo Bassano. Moving on we encounter the 14th century church of San Francesco, the Palazzo Pretorio, the house of the Remondini family (famous local editors) and the Museo Civico, which offers one of the best exhibitions of the Veneto.
Next a visit to the symbol of the city, the Ponte Vecchio or Ponte degli Alpini, many times reconstructed though nevertheless always remaining faithful to the original 16th century Palladian plans, and the Ca’ Rezzonico, a villa from the Venetian domination famous for its stucco and pictorial decoration in which Canova had a hand.
Our final destination will be to encounter the crafts and gastronomic delights that Bassano is famous for: from ceramics to the renowned grappa liquor and white asparagus.
The province of Vicenza also comprises of one of the best areas of natural beauty in the Veneto in the Altopiano di Asiago, and it is here our visit takes us, to ensure a complete picture of all the marvels present in the territory.
Though the march of time has removed the oldest monuments in the piazza, the valley has many features to stimulate the visitor’s interest, beginning with its natural element, which in its beauty and splendour can easily be considered an artwork in itself.
In the centre of the village which gives its name to the entire area we can observe the Palazzo del Municipio which preserves the banner given in 1644 by the Venetian Republic to the Federation of the Seven Comunes for their help in the battle against the Turks. Also to be seen is the Duomo, built over a 14th century church.
We conclude our visit once again with the traditional local cuisine, sampling the highly-esteemed Asiago cheese in its various stages of seasoning.
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