Vicenza’s Jewels

Located in the Veneto area of northeastern Italy is the city of Vicenza.

It is well known for the refined architecture of Andrea Palladio, who worked in the 16th century. The Basilica Palladiana and the Palazzo Chiericati, which is now a museum, are two examples. The indoor Teatro Olimpico is located nearby and was also designed by Palladio to evoke a classical amphitheater. The four identical fronts of the hillside Villa La Rotonda on the city’s outskirts are all the same, and it is yet another of Vicenza’s gems.

Palladio’s Basilica

A long series of fires and damages caused serious damage to the ancient municipal buildings, and, around 1450, their reconstruction began. It was decided to take advantage of the lower walls of the thirteenth-century buildings and to build the large hall above it, covered by the majestic ceiling in the shape of an upside-down ship’s hull, at the time made of lead-coated wood.

Tradition attributes the design of the large upper hall with a wooden roof in the shape of an overturned ship’s hull covered with lead plates to Maestro Domenico da Venezia. In 1481, works designed by Tommaso Formenton began to surround three fronts of the building with a double loggia.

In 1496, the collapse of the south-west corner of the loggias gave rise to an intense debate on the reconstruction.

The reconstruction of the south-west corner of the loggias was a contentious issue in 16th century Vicenza.

The city council ultimately approved the proposal put forth by Giovanni da Pedemuro and Andrea Palladio, who was only 38 years old at the time. This decision was made possible by the intervention of Giangiorgio Trissino, a respected humanist from Vicenza.

The loggias themselves were an important architectural feature of the city, and their reconstruction was seen as crucial to maintaining their cultural significance.
Palladio’s design was praised for its elegance and simplicity, and it remains an important example of Renaissance architecture to this day. Despite the controversy surrounding their construction, the loggias have become an iconic symbol of Vicenza’s rich cultural heritage and continue to draw visitors from around the world.

In 1827, the roof was rebuilt with the replacement of the large wooden arches and the external lead cladding with a lighter copper one. During the Second World War, on March 18, 1945, the large wooden hull covering the hall was hit by a bomb and collapsed.

The Basilica of Vicenza was rebuilt in reinforced concrete and wood in 1948.
In 2002, the Municipality of Vicenza launched an international competition for the conservative and functional restoration carried out between 2007 and 2012.

The reopening of the basilica to the public on October 5, 2012, was a momentous occasion for the people of Vicenza. This ancient city has a rich history that is reflected in its architecture and landmarks.

The municipal palaces of Vicenza, built in the thirteenth century, are a testament to the city’s past.

However, like many historic sites around the world, they were not immune to the impact of World War II. The war left scars on many buildings in Vicenza, and some were irreparably damaged.

Despite this, efforts have been made to preserve what remains of the city’s historic architecture.

Today, visitors can still marvel at the Palladian loggias and other landmarks that have survived centuries of history and conflict. The reopening of the basilica is just one example of how Vicenza continues to honour its past while looking towards its future as a vibrant and thriving city.

The basilica has a sizeable interior. Due to the fact that exhibitions take up a lot of its time, I rarely had the opportunity to see it. But I was fortunate enough to walk into the building’s top floor on a day when it was completely deserted.

It is quite majestic inside. This is but one of Vicenza’s jewels. Besides the most celebrated there are more sites worth of the visitor’s time.

Jewelery Museum

In the heart of Vicenza, one of the most important goldsmith districts in Italy, we can find the Jewelery Museum.

Located under one of the Basilica’s loggias it is easy to find this small museum, but so rich in its items exposed to the public.

The first in Italy and one of the few in the world dedicated exclusively to jewellery. The Jewelery Museum, a permanent museum space of 410 square meters located inside the Basilica Palladiana, is a project by Italian Exhibition Group Spa created in partnership with the Municipality of Vicenza.

Among the precious items there are works of antique jewelry (including crowns, now that we are talking about it…), next to the very finest, modern design jewelry.

A must see.

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I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

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