Basilica Palladiana&Torre di Piazza
The dome itself is in the shape of an upturned ship's hull, and is of cooper sheeting over wooden supports, and the balustrade is decorated with statues of mythological figures.
Two stairways take up to the Loggia. One, facing Piazza delle Erbe, was built by Benatello around the end of the 16th century, whilst the other, facing Piazza dei Signori, is by da Milano. The imposing Torre di Piazza, Bell - Tower of Basilica Palladiana, can be seen from every corner of the town.
From a Gondola to an architect of world renown
Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, known to history as "Palladio," was born in 1508 in Padua, a mainland possession of the island-based Republic of Venice. Apprenticed to a stonecutter in Padua when he was 13 years old, Andrea broke his contract after only 18 months and fled to the nearby town of Vicenza. In Vicenza he became an assistant in the leading workshop of stonecutters and masons.
Andrea's presumably settled life was transformed in 1537, when he was 30 years old. At that time he was engaged by Gian Giorgio Trissino, one of the period's leading scholars, to assist in executing new additions which Trissino had designed for his own villa at Cricoli just outside Vicenza. The association affected Andrea in at least three ways.
First, Trissino immediately assumed the role of Andrea's mentor and set about the task of introducing him to the principles of classical architecture and the other disciplines of Renaissance education. Second, Trissino introduced his protege to an ever widening circle of patrons, first in Vicenza, then in Padua, and finally in Venice itself. Third, Trissino bestowed upon Andrea the name by which he was to become famous: Palladio. Suggesting Pallas Athene, the Greek goddess of wisdom, the name was also used by Trissino for an angelic messenger in an epic poem which he composed during the same period.
Through their books, Palladio learned the principles of Vitruvius, the classical Roman architect whose treatise had been rediscovered in the prior century, and of the Renaissance commentator, Leon Battista Alberti. Through personal contact, he became acquainted with the ideas and works of pioneering architects of his own period, including Giulio Romano, Giovanni Maria Falconetto, Sebastiano Serlio and Michele Sanmicheli. Under Trissino's sponsorship, he received further introduction to classical Roman works and to early Renaissance works on visits to Padua and Venice (1538-9) and an initial visit to Rome (1541).
By 1538, probably aided by Trissino's influence, Palladio and his workshop had begun construction of Villa Godi, the first of a series of country villas and urban palaces designed by Palladio in the following years for patrons among the provincial nobility of Vicenza.
A decade later Palladio began receiving commissions for country villas from prominent and wealthy leaders of the nobility of Venice itself, such as Daniele and Marc'Antonio Barbaro and Giorgio Cornaro. The wealth and aspirations of these new patrons evoked from Palladio those grand and innovative creations of his middle period upon which his influence on all later Western architecture is based.
Finally, in 1560 Palladio received his first commission for a work in Venice itself: completion of the refectory for the Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore. Other religious structures in Venice followed: the cloister of the monastery of S. M. della Carita (now the Accademia Museum) and the facade of the church of S. Francesco della Vigna. His Venetian works culminated in three magnificent churches which remain today: S. Giorgio Maggiore, Il Redentore and "Le Zitelle" (S. M. della Presentazione). (Another Palladian church, S. Lucia, was razed in the mid-19th century to make way for the railroad station.) Surprisingly, despite numerous efforts, Palladio never received any secular commissions in the city of Venice.
Palladio was an accomplished user of the new technology of movable type, then only about one hundred years old. His first book was a guide to the classical ruins of Rome, prompted presumably by his own frustrations in attempting to locate various monuments during his visits to that city. He also published, with his sons, a new translation of Caesar's Commentaries and contributed illustrations to Daniele Barbaro's annotated edition of Vitruvius' treatise on classical architecture.
Then, in 1570, following years of preparation, he published in Venice the masterwork that ensured his place in architectural history, I Quattro Libri dell' Architettura [The Four Books of Architecture]. The book set out his architectural principles as well as practical advice for builders. The most critical element, perhaps, was the set of meticulous woodcut illustrations drawn from his own works to illustrate the text. The work was subsequently translated into every European language and remains in print today both in paperback and hardcover.
Palladio died in his adopted town of Vicenza in 1580. I put his brief bio in here to help those who might be interested in enjoying what you might see in Vicenza and other places around the world where his legacy might be found.
Just another backyard, just another Palladio
Just across the road from La Rotonda, behind a high wall, was this building. It was simply just a building in someone's backyard, the main residence being up the hill further.
It seemed to be a chapel of some description but subsequent enquiries failed to enlighten me at all as no-one I asked had any idea what it was.
That a building like this is of no consequence highlights just what treats Vicenza has to offer in the way of architecture.
Then, of course, I contacted the oh-so-helpful Anna from the tourist information centre and found out all about it. Turns out it is the Chiesetta della Rotonda (small church of the Rotonda)
Nowadays, this little church stands on the Valmarana property across the laneway but, in the past, strangely distant from the villa, it was its chapel.
Paolo Almerico, the patron that committed the villa to Palladio, while dying in 1589, left as unique heir his son Virgilio Bartolomeo, with the obligation of building a chapel near the Rotonda. This last request wasn’t respected, because Virgilio Bartolomeo sold the villa to Conte Odorico Capra in 1591 with all the land around. The Capra family, maybe to avoid dangerous opposing stylist approaches, built this little chapel at some distance from the villa with an enormous symbol of the family (called "arme del casato") on the prospect. There is nothing to indicate the year during which the chapel was built, not even a small plate, but the style easily leads us back to the last part of the 17th century or the first part of the following one. The only doubt that may be cast with this hypothesis is that the chapel was enlarged during this period of time, but this never happened before with such a building. The main interest of this small building is given from the prospect, with the typical frame of four semicolumns supporting a triangular pediment. Over the elegant entrance door, in a strict classical style, and among the couples of ionic semicolumns, the heraldic coats of arms in a bloomed frame has a really decorative effect.
The visit to this town was quint and well preserved and completely walled. It is barely 24 blocks square, but has a medieval wall surrounded by a moat. On the peak of the hill is the 10th century castle with crenellated tops and 24 towers. This was a focal point for territory turf, and many battles took place around here. It was built by Count SAn Bonifacio, and the expansion was when the Scaligeri family dynasty took ownership. They built the castle on Monte Tenda in 1375, with three circular walls.
The town name comes from Swabian-Nordic name of Svevi/Suavi that invaded this area in the 7th century. The Ventians took governance in 1405. The castle was restored to its present form in 1890 by Italian Senator CAmuzzoni. The fame of today comes from the green grape that makes wine. There are 3 palaces to view along with the castle. The walls are 2400 meters long.
Information center is just outside the wall entrance on the left.
Another work of Palladio, the white Palazzo Porto-Festa was left unfinished.
A part of the building and a double loggia around the courtyard have never been made.
Inside frescos of Gianbattista Tiepolo can be admired.