Vicenza is known well in Italy and worldwide for its Palladian, for the Teatro Olimpico and the villas, for its good food and produce, for its pleasant tourist sites or its battlefields of Pasubio or Ortigara. In short, Vicenza is a city of art, gastronomy and tourism, but it is also important for economy, produce and export, on an industrial, agricultural and artiginal level.
The central area is the heart of the city and is delineated by a city wall, (which is actually heart-shaped!!) it is a small compact area, an authentic treasure chest of elegant, harmonious palazzi: it maybe because Vicenza is the third important city in Italy in terms of production and export, or maybe because this wealth has always defined the history of these inhabitants, but the fact remains that the since the Renaissance, the people of Vicenza have always wanted to show off this luxury and power in the creation of an opulent city.
The north-west area is almost divided in half by the Bacchiglione river and by Viale Trento which runs parallel to it. This is the largest commercial area in the city, containing the Città Mercato and Silos hypermarkets; there are also welcoming bars such as Omnia or the Cyber Club Cafè Sirena.
The north-east zone is distinguished by the Astichello area that separates Ospedale Civile from the spacious Guerini park; it is also the area around Viale Trieste, with numerous pizzerias and Chinese restaurants, and with night spots like the Millennio bar or the Prince of Wales.
The southwest zone covers the area surrounding the Fiera (city’s exhibition center) and the exhibitions, which take place around it. This is the home of the Basilica di Monte Berico with its sanctuary dedicated to Mary, this is a reference point for the inhabitants and visitors to the whole city. Exhibitions and religious festivals take place here and it also a place of pilgrimage.
The south-east area contains the football stadium known as Romeo Menti, people from all over Italy meet here, because this is where Series A football games are played by ‘big city teams’, but small teams from provincial towns also compete here. Corso Padova is located here ‘ the road that is linked with the center, there are traditional bars, restaurants and cafés, such as Follini, L’incontro or the renowned La Conchiglia d’Oro restaurant.
The ‘provincia’, or province is rich and well populated (there are 121 municipalities with a total population of around 750,000 inhabitants) and is divided into three regions: a mountainous regions in the north, which is far from the city; an area which lies at the foot of the mountain, increasingly prosperous. The main centers of the province are here ie Valdagno, Schio, Thiene, Marostica and Bassano del Grappa: all of these places are filled with artistic and cultural delights. Finally there is la pianura (the plain), which leads southwards, surrounding the ‘leggerissimi’ Berici hills, the villages of Lonigo and Barbarano nestle in its gentle slopes and contain marvellous villas, the majority of these have been built according to the Palladian style.
The Milan-Venezia train and the A4 motorway link Vicenza with the other major cities in the region, the province can be reached by the A31 Valdastico and by the Vicenza-Thiene-Schio train. The municipalities are also linked to Vicenza by several bus services.
History of Vicenza
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.