Vicenza appeals from the moment you step off the train. When you walk out of the station, your first experience is to cross a pleasant green park which separates the station from the historic centre. I arrived in the early evening, and checked into Hotel Campo Marzio (www.campomarzio.com ), just across the park about 5- 10 minutes walk from the station, and about 3 minutes walk from the start of Corso Palladio, the main road which runs through the historic centre. The hotel was a good quality option, with nice rooms, a rather elegant bathroom and a good breakfast.
The main reason for coming to Vicenza is to see the villas and other buildings designed by the sixteenth century architect Andrea Palladio (1508-80). The largest of Palladio’s creations in Vicenza is the Palazzo della Ragioni otherwise known as the Basilica in the main square, Piazza dei Signori, which also contains the tall, thin tower, Torre di Piazza. You can also take in many of the Palladio villas by walking down Corso Palladio end to end. Palladio also designed numerous villas which are dotted around the whole Veneto area. The Rotonda (with its impressive frescoes) and Valmarana villas on the outskirts of Vicenza are well worth taking in, but as opening hours are limited, advance planning is required.
As well as villas, Palladio also designed the Teatro Olimpico, the oldest indoor theatre in Europe, http://www.teatrolimpicovicenza.it/ (open Tues-Sun from 09.00-17.00, extended to 18.00 from early June to early Sept, entry 8.50 euros). This is one of Vicenza’s main attractions, and the interior design, with its clever use of perspective to suggest long streets stretching away from the stage, is very striking. It’s worth taking time to listen to the audioguide presentation, which gives descriptions of some of the early performances, during which the theatre was packed with spectators.
Vicenza has many churches, of which the most beautiful is probably Santa Corona (open daily 08.30-12.00 and 14.30-18.30), with its superb altarpiece. Palladio was initially buried at the foot of one of the pillars in Santa Corona, before his remains were eventually moved to a cemetery in 1845. The pillar still has an inscription recording the fact. More information about Vicenza’s churches can be found at http://www.vicenza.com/temi/vicenza_sacra/chiese_vicenza/chiese.php