Design Destination: Vicenza

By Joseph Pubillones

August 24, 2019 4 min read

No, let's not confuse Vicenza with Venezia. The latter is a beautiful, world-renowned Italian waterfront town, and Vicenza is the quiet and refined hometown of the architect of all architects, Andrea Palladio. In the northeastern lands of the Veneto region, about a 30-minute train ride from Venice, lies the lesser-known, less touristy town of Vicenza. An interesting thing is that this town is a place of convergence, where Byzantine-influenced Venetian architecture meets the pure and simple classical designs of the master Palladio. For those willing to go to the road less traveled, an architectural education awaits in Vicenza.

Vicenza is filled with beautiful piazzas, galleries, churches and Renaissance palaces. In each of these categories, you will surely find Palladio's hand and vision shaping the landscape and urban envelope. What is remarkable about Palladio is his economy of means to design grand architecture. He was quite the master of buildings constructed with bricks and plaster made to emulate ancient buildings constructed of stone and marble. He was as adept in designing a small infill townhouse, Casa Cogollo, as he was in designing the elegant and majestic Palazzo Chiericati and Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, where the Palladio Museum is housed.

Architects and architecture aficionados will always associate Palladio's work with the five grand rural villas that dot the Venetian flatlands: the Villa La Rotonda, Villa Malcontenta, Villa Emo, Villa Barbaro and Villa Cornaro. These villas are living lessons in proportion, scale and geometry. However, in the city of Vicenza, at the Basilica Palladiana, the lessons are about preservation and reuse. It is in this work where he takes older Venetian fabrics on a side of a piazza and wraps them in a marble veil of his iconic arch flanked by rectangular openings and topped with a copper roof for a monumental gesture. To this day, the combination of the arch and rectangular openings is referred to as a Palladian window, whether glazed or open.

Needless to say, Palladio's last work, Teatro Olimpico, was a masterwork — an indoor amphitheater carved out amid a cluster of medieval buildings reminiscent of Roman times. This work shows off the High Renaissance architecture featuring the feeling of the outdoors — a theme that continues to this day in theater design. The stage set behind the arches is the work of Vicente Scamozzi and is a highlight for those who love interior design.

Vicenza flourished as a city trading in gold. Today, it is one of Italy's most industrial areas, home to great furniture manufacturers such as Mattei, Trabaldo, Prodital and SITIA. These companies take pride in the production and manufacturing of the highest-quality goods and partake in the Made In Vicenza workshops put together by the Vicenza Chamber of Commerce.

If you're looking for a place to stay, right across from the Teatro Olimpico is the G Boutique Hotel, which is theatrical from the moment you walk in past the heavy velvet drapes. The G no doubt stands for "glam." Sparkling chandeliers and silver candleholders shine against the chic black-lacquered walls of the lobby. A long communal table for 24 is the designated breakfast and dining area. Rooms are taupe and well appointed. I wouldn't stay anywhere else!

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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