Are you planning to visit Vicenza this year? These are the best things to do in Vicenza, Italy (for a first-time visitor)!
Vicenza is one of the most underrated places to visit in Northern Italy. This unassuming town has many historic sites, tasty restaurants, and more!
This guide covers some of the top Vicenza attractions, museums, and places to just relax and take in the city’s atmosphere!
Did we miss any incredible places to visit in Vicenza? Let us know your favorite Vicenza landmarks and sites in the comments!
Best Vicenza Tours (to Maximize Your Time!)
If you’re looking for something more organized when in Vicenza and the surrounding area, here are some awesome Vicenza tours you should check out.
These tours will help you maximize your time, which is especially important if you only have a short amount of time in the city! We listed a variety so that you can pick which one is most suitable for you (and many include multiple places!):
- Visit Villa Valmarana with Tiepolo’s Frescoes (most popular tour!)
- Private Walking Tour with Teatro Olimpico
- Cooking Class in a Local’s Home
Best Things to Do in Vicenza
Overlooking the Piazza dei Signori is the impressive Renaissance Basilica redesigned by the famous architect Andrea Palladio.
He redesigned the original Gothic Palazzo della Ragione by adding covered balconies, or loggias, with his popularized Palladian windows made of white marble.
The bottom loggias are designed in an Ionic fashion whereas the top is Doric in style, where the Hall of the Council of the Four Hundred is.
The first floor is large and built with wood, resembling a ship or an arc. The top of the balustraded parapet is ornate with statues.
Once a seat for the public magistrates of Vicenza, the Basilica today is used to host architecture and art exhibitions with its three independent spaces.
The Bisara Tower is adjacent to the basilica and stands at a height of 82 meters. Aside from its aesthetic beauty, the basilica has cafes and restaurants on both the ground floor and at the top of the terrace, which offers beautiful views overlooking the adjacent piazza.
Entry inside the Basilica is €5 at full price.
Address: Piazza dei Signori, 36100 Vicenza VI
Piazza dei Signori
Located in the historical center of the city is Piazza dei Signori, the main square of Vicenza. It is primarily known for housing the Basilica Palladiana, created by the famous architect Andrea Palladio.
The rectangular piazza is enclosed by the Basilica and the adjacent Bissara Tower on one end, and on the other is bordered by the Church of San Vincenzo, the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, and the Loggia del Capitaniato, which was also created by Palladio.
The scenic architecture provides the perfect ambiance for dining and lounging at the many coffee shops and restaurants bordering the square.
On Thursdays, there are markets held in the square with vendors that sell fresh produce, prepared meals, and clothing. On Sundays, another market sells flowers and produce.
The piazza is the heart of the city and where everyone goes to meet to socialize, for their aperitivo, or simply to stroll around in the illuminated vicinity at nightfall.
Garibaldi Vicenza is a popular place to dine right across from the Basilica, with a pleasant ambiance and decorative lights.
Andrea Palladio was a famous Italian Renaissance architect that made remarkable contributions to the Venetian Republic.
His museum, which is housed in the Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, was designed by Andrea Palladio himself, in which he integrated parts of existing medieval buildings into one, united urban complex.
It is the only palace that he was able to see completed. The museum is located in the historic center of the city and is surrounded by some of the palaces built by Palladio.
The interior has a courtyard notable for its scale and details, as well as a façade and internal portico also designed by Palladio.
Inside the museum, you will find models of mockups, drawings, audio recordings, and video projections, as well as personal information and a biography about Palladio.
Tickets to the Palladio Museum have combined ticket options that will grant access to all of Palladio’s works and architecture in Vincenza as well as in the villas of the Veneto countryside.
The museum is also an open and public research workshop included in the Palladio Center.
Address: Palazzo Barbaran, Contrà Porti, 11, 36100 Vicenza VI
Duomo Vicenza is dedicated to Santa Maria Annunciata and was built in the fifteenth century. Its Gothic-style facade is the only thing remaining of its former glory after the bombings of World War II, in which the building was heavily reconstructed.
The dome designed by the famous architect Andrea Palladio was also damaged, and the restored building on the exterior, therefore, is not as stunning as its prior days, however, its pink brick construction isn’t too bad to look at either.
The cathedral is built with four registers, the lowest being the largest, with its own large pointed arches, part of which cover the front entrance.
The six columns and large rose window belong to the second register, whereas the last two are topped by statues, little towers, and pinnacles.
To the right of the apse is the freestanding campanile dating back to the tenth century, and somehow managed to survive the war.
The interior includes an expansive open space with several side chapels and a single nave. The pastel pink and white color combination highlights the interior.
Address: Piazzetta Duomo, 36100 Vicenza VI
Another Renaissance palace designed by Andrea Palladio is the Palazzo Chiericati, which was finished at the end of the 17th century.
It was a residence of the Chiericati family until 1893 when the Municipality di Vicenza bought it to house the city’s art collection.
It was then restored by two other popular architects, Berti and Miglioranza before it was finally inaugurated as a museum in 1855.
The facade of the museum is accented by numerous pillars forming a colonnade and portico, and the roof is decorated with marble statues of mythological figures.
The ground floor of the palace is decorated with stuccoes, grotesques, and frescoes created by Battista Zelotti and Domenico Brusasorzi.
The museum is known as the Civic Art Gallery and houses the Drawings and Prints Rooms, Painting and Sculpture Collections, and the Numismatics Room.
The museum has 33 drawings by Palladio, and on the first floor, you will find the medieval section, where there are paintings of altarpieces of destroyed churches by prominent artists.
The second floor is where the collected works of Venetian masters are held.
Address: Piazza Matteotti, 37/39, 36100 Vicenza VI
The first indoor theater constructed with masonry in the world is in Vincenza, called Teatro Olimpico. Its interiors are made of stucco, wood, and plaster.
Another masterpiece constructed by architect Andrea Palladio, it is located in the Piazza Matteotti and can house up to 400 people.
The structure incorporates a revival of classical ideas featuring frescoed walls and ornate wall decorations.
The intricate details of the ceilings, walls, and stage are an attraction all by itself, let alone the performances that they present throughout the year.
They have light shows that illuminate the stunning Renaissance structure interpreting that of an ancient Roman theater.
From gold ornamented chapels to pillars and statues of Roman figures looking down into the stage and back into the crowd, most visitors are stuck with starting and absorbing the artistic expression found in the architecture.
The beautiful venue is thus inaugurated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. There are frequent theater and musical productions, with dedicated musical weeks, festivals, and classical shows throughout their performance calendar.
Tickets at full price cost €11.
Address: Piazza Matteotti, 11, 36100 Vicenza VI
Parco Querini is located to the north of the historical city center of Vicenza. It takes its name from a noble residence owned by the Capra family, which was later purchased by the Querini, and thus the name of the vicinity is born.
Many years after this occurrence, the municipality buys all the land and the residence and turns the region into a public park.
It is surrounded by rivers on both sides of its banks – the Bacchiglione and the Astichello River.
Tree-lined avenue decorated with statues runs from behind the Palazzo until it reaches a pond surrounded by an islet that has a small temple built in the classical style with Ionic pillars.
The opposite end of the park behind the pond has ruins from the previous complexes– the apse of the Church of Santa Maria and the greenhouses.
It is a pleasant place for tourists and locals alike to enjoy a picnic amongst beautiful nature, a variety of plant species, and wildlife of ducks, rabbits, tortoises, turtles, swans, ducks, herons, and pigeons.
Address: Viale Mariano Rumor, 36100 Vicenza VI
Ponte San Michele
Bridging over the Retrone River is the Ponte San Michele, located in the historical city center’s southeastern part.
It is a pedestrian-only bridge named after the Church of San Michele nearby, a 13th-century Romanesque and Gothic Church that was destroyed in the Napoleonic era.
The stone bridge was built from 1621 to 1623 based on the model of famous Venetian bridges built by the Contini brothers.
The bridge is surrounded by elegant buildings, greenery, and flowers, and at night the bridge is illuminated and reflected onto the water.
From the Vicenza railway station, it is located nearly 950 meters away. There is also the Largo Neri Pozza bus stop on bus line 10, which is only 160 meters away from the bridge.
Il Ceppo Restaurant
Il Ceppo uses its territoriality to its advantage alongside the city’s diverse culinary tradition.
Its high-quality ingredients and the sought-after local products incorporated into its menu are regional gastronomical favorites.
Cod is the main dish in the regional cuisine and is well-used at Il Ceppo restaurant. It is dried and prepared according to tradition, and is served classically or creamed.
Il Ceppo presents a vast selection of products to offer for lunch or gala dinners in addition to the cod. The restaurant also has a diverse and stocked wine shop, and the helpful personnel can assist you in picking the perfect pairing for your salted cod dish that evening.
The bistro has both an a la carte menu and a tasting menu where you can sample small and typical Vicenza dishes.
The dining establishment has earned a double gold star from the International Taste & Quality Institute as well as the approval of the Confraternity of Baccalà alla Vicentina for its excellent gastronomy.
Their eight-page menu will have you on your toes!
Address: Corso Andrea Palladio, 196, 36100 Vicenza VI
Villa La Rotonda
Right outside of Vicenza is the stunning Villa La Rotonda designed for Paolo Almerico by Andrea Palladio, and is considered to be his most renowned work.
The Renaissance villa is an architectural gem dating back half a millennia and remains an inspiring venue for tourists and locals alike.
The villa is only a quarter of a mile away from the city’s walls and the distance granted Almerico his desired opportunity to promenade in his garden of holy agriculture.
The plan of the villa is situated squarely on top of a hill and is rotated 45° so that the corners of the structure extend toward the four cardinal points, and thus benefit from the winds and sun’s rays.
The project commissioned by Almerico was for humanistic purposes– to revive and recover ancient ideals– and the villa preserves motifs that can be found in other historical buildings in Italy, like the dome, which is derived from the Roman Pantheon.
The villa is known for its marvelous frescoes decorated with statues, primarily within the central hall and the dome.
Address: Via della Rotonda, 45, 36100 Vicenza VI
Santa Corona Cathedral
The Santa Corona Cathedral dates back to 1261 when the church was constructed to house a holy thorn relic from the crown of thorns that Jesus was forced to wear during his passion.
The holy relic was donated by Louis IX, the King of France.
The church was built in the Gothic style and was originally a Dominican convent, whereas the Valmarana Chapel which was added in the late 16th century, was designed by the famous Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, who initially was buried in the church.
Vertical pilasters divide the masonry facade, and the ogival arch portal is splayed; above, there is a rose window and pinnacles on the roof.
Three naves line the interior with a high transept, and the pointed arches are interspersed with the cross-vaulted ceiling.
The elegant church is also home to numerous works of art. The altarpiece of the baptistery, the altar, and the wooden choir pulpit can’t be missed!
The church itself is state property and functions as a museum, therefore there is an entrance fee of €3.
Address: Contrà Santa Corona, 2, 36100 Vicenza VI
Towering 82 meters above the Piazza dei Signori is the Torre Bissa, also known as the Torre di Piazza. The medieval tower is adjacent to the Basilica Palladina and was built in 1174 next to their palace.
It was bought in the early 13th century by the Municipality of Vicenza, in addition to the palace. Unfortunately in 1945, the tower and Palladian Basilica were both damaged in a bombing by the Allied powers.
The dome collapsed, the bells fell, the pavement of the square was destroyed, and the top of the tower caught on fire.
It and the basilica were rebuilt in the following years, however, their forms vary from their original until 2002, the restoration of the tower recovered and consolidated what was believed to be the initial decorations, surfaces, and frescoes of the structure.
The tower is also a war memorial, which is seen at the base of the tower.
The coat of arms surmounts the group of sculptures of the enthroned and crowned Madonna and Child and the bas-relief of the Lion of Saint Mark.
Where to Stay in Vicenza
If you’re keen to stay in Vicenza, you will find plenty of good lodging options! Here are a few of our top picks:
- Palazzo Scamozzi (excellent location!)
- Palazzo Valmarana Braga
- Relais Santa Corona
- Residenza San Pietro
Did we miss any amazing things to do in Vicenza? Let us know your Vicenza travel tips in the comments!
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