History of Vicenza

Mother Earth Travel > Italy > Vicenza > History

The origins of Vicenza go back into the mists of time. The people of the Veneto region settled here, several centuries before the birth of Christ. Archeological remains of this period can be found in the Santa Corona museum. During Roman domination, the city was organized according the 'castrum' plan; the decumano Massimo (one of the main roads, which is today the Corso Palladio) crossed the residential area heading from west to east and joined Via consolare Postumia.

In Piazza Duomo, underneath the Palazzetto Proti, visitors can see the Criptoportico Romano, part of an ancient patrician home. The High Medieval age saw Vicenza become a Longobard dukedom and in 899 invading Barbarians destroyed the city. A wall was built afterwards, to encircle the urban center. In the 13th century Ezzelino III da Romano, known as the Tyrant, managed to take hold of a large territory and Vicenza became the center of his signoria. At the death of Ezzelino in 1259, Padua spread its dominion over part of the province until the arriva of the Scaligeri (1311).

In 1404, after a brief rule by the viscontis, Vicenza entered the Serene Republic of San Marco and remained part of it until Bonaparte ended the storia millenaria of the Stato veneto in 1797.

During the three 'venetian' centuries, Vicenza was transformed and made more beautiful by stunning architectural pieces, making it one of the major artistic centers of Italy. At the beginning of the 16th century, goldwork flourished and the silk industry was born, grew and developed as well as the manufacture of other textiles this growth was due to birth and subsequent power of the new middle-class.

At the beginning of 1848, the people of Vicenza felt same the national-patriotic pride that brought about the unification of Italy, they fought the Austrians in the hills, but, they were forced to surrender on June 10, in order to save the city from the bombing that was threatened by General Radetzky. On 18th November 1866, however, the troops of Vittorio Emanuele Secondo di Savoia managed to free the city and it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Large and important industrial growth followed, especially in the textile sector: industrial plants were built, such as Lanerrossi in Schio and Marzotto in Thiene. During the First World War, Vicenza was the headquarters of the Primo Corpo d'Armata (First Armed Guards) and the territory became the setting for one of the bloodiest phases in the war (Altopiano di Asiago, Monte Grappa, Monte Pasubio). The mentality of the city and the area was changed noticeably due to the great influx of soldiers from every corner of Italy; Vicenza became more open-minded and modern. During the Second World War the city was subject to repeated, violent air raids, which claimed many victims and inflicted a great deal of damage on many of the monuments. In the years that followed, Vicenza enjoyed an economic boom, through its small and medium industries, which radically transformed the appearance of the countryside.