Vicenza

Vicenza is a medium-sized city located in Veneto, in northeastern Italy, and the capital of the namesake province. The city and the surrounding countryside and hills are particularly famous for the many works, and particularly the Villas, by Palladio. Because of the architectonic contributions of Andrea Palladio, it was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

Understand

Villa Rotonda

Vicenza is an ancient city. In 157 b.D. it entered into the roman empire with the name Vicetia or Vincentia. In 889 it was destroyed by Ungari, and in 1001 it became an episcopal stronghold. In 1404 it became part of the Republic of Venice.

The XVI century was very important for Vicenza because Andrea Palladio built several villas and palaces. During the XIX century, after the fall of Napoleone, the city was taken by Austria, but in 1848 the citizens rebelled against the Austrian government and in 1866 it finally became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Get in

By train

The train station is located on the southern part of the town, at the end of Viale Roma. Piazza Castello and the old town is a mere 5-minute walk from the station.

The railstation of Vicenza is on the line connecting Milan to Venice. There are also a number of trains to other major cities and destinations such as Bologna to the south, Bolzano to the north, and Trieste to the east via connections Verona, Padova, Venice, and Trento.

Trains to the towns and cities around Vicenza depart daily (times provided are for the regionale trains). The most common are to Verona (1 hour), Padova (25 minutes), Venice (1 hour 15 minutes). Trains also depart for Bassano del Grappa, Treviso, Castelfranco, Rovigo, Sirmione, and Ferrara.

Taking international trains from Vicenza is possible, but it could be slower and/or more expensive since the city is not a major station for train transit. Instead, it is highly recommended to book a train to France, Spain or Switzerland from Milan; Austria and Germany from Verona; and Eastern Europe from Venice. Book a separate (cheap) ticket to these cities and make your connection from there.

More info on Trenitalia. When booking overseas train tickets, make sure to ask for the "Smart" special deal, which provides up to a 50% discount. The deal is especially good for destinations in Eastern Europe such as Budapest or Belgrade, where tickets could be as low as 15 euros one-way (instead of 50 euros and above). Trenitalia requires you to buy the ticket 7–15 days in advance, so make sure you plan your trip ahead of time. The website only accepts Italian credit cards, so your best bet is to buy your ticket at the train station.

By car

Vicenza could be reached via the following highways: A4 - from Torino, Milan, Venice or Trieste; A31 - from Schio, Asiago, and Bassano del Grappa; A22 - From Bolzano, Trento, Garda Lake, Mantova and Modena via Verona; A13 - from Bologna and Florence via Padova

A number of strade statale (SS), strade regionale (SR) and strade provinciale (SP) criss-cross Vicenza, and they are a great way to reach many of the great small towns that surround Vicenza. The roads going south to Colli Euganei through Colli Berici, to the northeast to Recoaro Terme, and to the northwest to Treviso via Bassano del Grappa and Asolo are particularly beautiful and highly recommended for those looking for drives through groves of olive trees, vineyards, hills, hidden valleys, and remote hill towns. However, it is not recommended for going to major towns such as Verona, Padova, or Venice. These roads are almost always backlogged with traffic and marred by seriously ugly industrial areas.

By bus

Vicenza is connected to other cities with a bus servirce offered by Ferrovie Tramvie Vicentine . It is a less comfortable service than train, but it can reach several places that don't have a train station. Some long distance destinations (such as Milan and Venice) are possible, but by and large the buses only serve the province of Vicenza and the immediate towns outside of it. The bus station is located about 100 meters to the left of the train station.

By bicycle

If you are up for it, it is easy to reach Vicenza via the smaller roads listed above via bicycle. Cycling is a very popular activity in Italy, and many are even brave enough to attempt the alpine crossing from countries in the north to Italy. Stay on the secondary roads however, as it is not only illegal but incredibly dangerous to ride your bicycle in the autostrada. Also, do the trip from mid-Spring to late Summer as Northern Italy suffers very heavy fog during Autumn and Winter, and snow and ice conditions could be very dangerous and unpredictable especially in the mountains.

Get around

By foot

Vicenza's city center is small enough to be comfortably explored on foot. The main road through the old town is Corso Palladio, which contains the best of the city center's shopping as well as most of Palladio's urban palaces. The hike from the city center to Monte Berico is uphill but still not so strenuous, and the road circles around to Villa Valmarana ai Nani down to the entrance to the Rotonda. Although most recommendations are to take the bus to the Rotonda and back, this walk will get you to some of the best and uncrowded parts of Vicenza.

By bicycle

There are a number of bicycle rental companies in Vicenza as well as surrounding towns and cities that service Vicenza. For a listing of these companies as well as to book a bicycle rental, inquire at the Tourism Offices in Piazza Matteoti next to the Teatro Olimpico or at the Piazza dei Signori right in front of the Basilica Palladiana.

By bus

The city is well-serviced by bus. Times and schedules are posted on their website at (in Italian only). The most important lines are #1 to the shopping malls and #8 to the Rotonda.

By car

Vicenza's city center is small enough that there is no need for a car if you only want to explore the city center, Monte Berico and the Rotonda. In fact, it is also not recommended if you are only staying within these areas as the ZTL (zona trafico limitato—no drive zones) is very strictly enforced, encompasses most if not all of the city center, and changes frequently and without notice.

However, if you are planning on driving around the surrounding country side to see the villas and go wine-tasting, there are really no other realistic option other than to drive a car. Car rental companies Avis and Hertz are both located within a two-minute walk from the train station.

See

Landmarks

Museums

Piazze (Squares)

Parks

Do

Learn

Unlike the nearby towns of Padova and Verona, Vicenza does not have university and thus, no significant student population. However, you can always do what the locals do and commute weekly and sometimes daily to nearby universities if you want to attend.

There are numerous language schools in Vicenza, such as Interlingua.

Work

Although Vicenza was one of the top performers during the Italian economic miracle of the 50s and 60s, and still one of the richest towns in Italy, jobs for foreigners are few and far between. Although leather and gold are top exports and computer manufacturing is big business, foreigners especially from outside of the EU Economic Zone have much difficulty finding a job in the private sector. The most viable form of employment is teaching English, which brings in foreigners from the UK, USA, and Canada. Nevertheless, opportunities are more likely in the bigger towns of Padova and Verona.

For Americans, one option would be to be employed through the Department of Defense either as a government employee or contractor working for the Army base located in the outskirts of Vicenza.

Buy

Brands & Malls

Local Specialties

Flea Markets

Food Markets

Eat

Although "cucina povera" seems to be more associated with Tuscany and the south than the Veneto, Vicenza's cuisine is deeply defined by the foods people prepared generations ago when Vicenza, along with the Veneto, experienced crippling poverty as a result of droughts, plagues, famines and wars caused by political machinations. For example, the local nickname "magnagatti" (literally cat-eaters) originated from a time when rumors started to circulate that the people of Vicenza, out of poverty and desperation, started eating cats. Although the truth behind the rumor is debatable, the locals' full acceptance of the nickname and pride in being called cat-eaters attest to the resilience of Vicenza's people as well as its culinary traditions. Although Vicenza now enjoys one of the highest standard of living in Italy, its cuisine is still rooted in basic preparations of what is typically considered lowly ingredients to make excellent dishes.

Some local dishes and specialties include:

Other specialties include: sopressa (a type of salami) from Val di Pasubio, Asiago cheese from Altopiano di Asiago, truffles from Nanto, cherries from Marostica, and chestnuts and wine from Colli Berici. Although there are a number of good restaurants in the city center, the best way to enjoy local specialties is by finding locally-renowned but little-known restaurants in the Colli Berici area. The best way to start your search is through the group "Le Buone Tavole dei Colli Berici" .

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Local Products

Like other places in the Veneto—and increasingly, the rest of Italy—Vicenza's drinks of choice are the spritz and the prosecco. Spritz is originally an Austrian invention, owing to the region's former status as a part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire. Although there are as many versions of the drink as there are bars in the Veneto, the most common versions in Vicenza are made with prosecco, a splash of soda, Aperol or Campari, and a slice of orange. Spritz Aperol tends to be sweeter, while Spritz Campari tends to be more bitter. Prosecco, Italy's version of sparkling white wine, is cheap and common in the city due to its close proximity to the prosecco-producing areas in the northeast namely Asolo, Conegliano and Valdobiaddene. Much like champagne (just don't call it "Italian champagne"!) the best prosecco tend to be smooth, producing smaller and more refined bubbles. Unlike champagne, prosecco tends to be cheap regardless of quality. Both drinks are usually consumed as aperitivi, but it isn't uncommon to drink only spritz or prosecco on a night out.

Grappa is also a local product, with production concentrated in the northern hills close to Bassano del Grappa or in the Colli Berici. It is usually consumed as a digestif or as a coffee-fortifier ("caffe corretto"). It is a strong liquor, but there tends to be little binge-drinking associated with it among the Italians. Every fall, the city hosts Distillerie Aperte, conducting tours and tastings of the best distilleries in the area.

Although not as big as say production in Piemonte or Toscana, wine is still a major produce in the region. The two most important variants are the Recioto from Gambellara and the Tai Rosso from the Colli Berici. Both are labelled DOC, the Recioto receiving the highest and prestigious appellation DOCG. For those who want to know more about these wines, the Strada del Vino Colli Berici and the Strada del Recioto link many of the province's best producers and provides opportunities to taste local wines alongside local produce and local countrysides.

Night Life

There isn't much in terms of night life in Vicenza per se, but the city is hardly dead on Friday nights and weekends. Although the city can get downright depressing on winter nights, spring and summer signal an explosion of merriment, when young people come out again and fill the city's bars and clubs.

In the historic center, the Piazza dei Signori, Piazza delle Erbe and Contra Pescheria Vecchia are the liveliest, with big groups of young people hanging around until late hours on weekends. Clubbing is an unknown activity in the center, instead concentrated in the SR 11/SS 46 intersection (about ten minutes from the historic center). Although a great place for a night out, featuring lively and sometimes packed clubs and live music, caution in this part of town should be exercised due to a moderate rate of crime associated with drugs, prostitution, illegal cabs, as well as general disturbance caused by public intoxication. Nevertheless, it is a relatively safe place for a night out.

For English-speaking guests looking to make friends with local Italians, there is an English Speaking Hour every Thursday from 9PM until closing. The location changes frequently, so check out the group's Facebook page for current information. It is not unusual to make friends on a Thursday and find yourself on a hike or excursion with your new-found friends two days later.

Sleep

Budget

Hostel „Olimpico”

36100 - Vicenza (VI) (2 km south east, located at the exit of the Vicenza-East tollgate),  +39 0444 582311.

Mid-range

Agriturismo

The agriturismo (or operating farms with a functioning B&B) movement is as popular in Vicenza as it is in the rest of Italy. The idea is that instead of a holiday rental in an urban area, vacationers stay and enjoy the Italian countryside as guests in these farms, which provide rooms as well as meals and tours to the surrounding countrysides. Accommodations range from simple rooms in converted farmhouses to grand rooms in ancient villas that dot the surrounding landscape. In addition to enjoying accommodations with friendly locals in a relatively bucolic setting, guests also get an opportunity to try local specialties with ingredients grown by the farm or by farmers in the surrounding area. For more information on agriturismo and to book a stay, click on this link.

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