If you want to go to Venice, go to Vicenza.
- It is much cheaper, especially from the point of view of accomodation costs.
- It is very close to Venice (some 45 minutes by train from Vicenza till Venezia Santa Lucia train station).
- It is really easy to reach Venice from Vicenza by train (there is a fast regional train – Regionale Veloce – almost every 20 minutes).
Do you need any other reasons? Well, this city has some more of them in store for you.
Vicenza is a quite and charming sibling of the glorious Venice. It is where you can rest from the latter’s noise and crowds, have a wonderful Spritz at a decent price on the main square and some time for yourselves. Good enough, isn’t it?
If the city of Vicenza had a second name, it would be Andrea Palladio, the name of the person who seems to have projected most of the city in the 16th century. The masterpieces of this famous architect are not only the face of Vicenza but also its unique character and image. The image you can notice everywhere as if it were a huge imprint of the great artist on the surface of the city. Due to Palladio’s ultimate genius, the villas he created and the city of Vicenza itself are proudly on the list of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites. So here comes one more reason for a visit.
Vicenza is one of the most antique cities of the whole region of Veneto. Its long history follows the general Italian trend enriched by the years under the influence of the neighbouring Lion of Venice. Enriched both culturally and economically, for Vicenza is also a city of gold, the city that made its own both the tradition of the commerce of this precious metal and the art of working the gold to create the finest jewellery. Vicenza is a masterpiece in the frame of the amazing Palladio’s architecture and the picturesque background of the surrounding Colli Berici hills. A masterpiece bearing an evident imprint of the Most Serene Republic.
One more reason for visiting Vicenza is the oldest functioning cinema of Italy – the Odeon. The place is the living symbol of the changing times. It is where at the beginning of the 20th century a church got transformed into a cinema. A cinema with such an orthodox name and such an unorthodox history of creation that still remains the beating heart of the city’s cultural life ignoring the mainstream trends in favour of a more selected choice of films and, as a consequence, its own devoted public. The Odeon of Vicenza is a place of cultural worship, a place to treat as a hidden treasure of what someone might call the real spirit of Vicenza. By the way, this year the unique Odeon celebrates its 110th anniversary. So, long live the Odeon!
One more good reason for coming to Vicenza is to taste some of the most renowned creations of its traditional cuisine and everything its amazing agricultural tradition has to offer starting from the white asparagus and continuing to the fresh Asiago cheese and much more. Some of the local dishes and products are an absolute must, to try and enjoy at least once in a lifetime and at least in one of your hopefully numerous visits to Italy.
Here we go with only some of them:
– bacalà alla Vicentina
Baccalà is Norwegian salted codfish that, according to the local tradition, is first fried with some onions and then cooked slowly for hours with some milk, grated Parmesan cheese, parsley and olive oil. Yammy!
– bigoli are thick hand-made spaghetti typical of the region
– pasta e fagioli is a dish common for the biggest part of Italy and is usually composed of short pasta and beans with the addition of various vegetables and herbs
– risi e bisi is a traditional local dish made of rice and green peas
– risotto con la zucca, or squash risotto
Some of the products Vicenza is famous for in the world of culinary are the following excellences:
– white asparagus of Bassano
– Marola asparagus
– Castegnero cherries
– rice from Grumolo delle Abbadesse
– red radicchio of Asigliano
– honey grappa of Lugo
– soppressa of Malo, a local type of aged salami
– Asiago cheese
To cut the long story sgort, let me sum up this note on Vicenza with some tips I’d like to share with those planning a visit to this wonderful city:
1. If you travel by car, look for a good offer at the hotel Tiepolo Hotel that offers free parking for residents, satisfactory breakfast and easy access both to the city centre and the highway toll roads.
2. If you travel by car and wish to park it by the city centre or near the railway station of Vicenza, leave it at the parking Verdi in Viale Verdi. It’s open 24/7. Here you’d pay € 0,50 every 15 minutes (the first 15 minutes for free) with the maximum lump sum of € 9,00 on working days (if you leave before midnight) and the maximum lump sum of € 5,00 on holidays (if you leave before midnight).
3. Vicenza has quite a number of book stores that offer many used books and old editions on sale. Don’t miss a good deal! We found ours at Gala Libraccio right by the Castle Tower.
4. Drink your Spritz at one of the numerous city bars. If you wish to enjoy your drink together with a marvellous view, choose caffè Garibaldi on the main square. The location does not influence the price in any negative way here.
5. Tired of Italian cuisine? Check the America Graffiti for a change. It is distant from the city centre but if you come here early enough (no later than 7.30 pm) you have good chances to find some vacant parking places.
6. Visit the Odeon! Visit the Odeon out of curiosity. Visit the Odeon if you wish to watch a movie in original language. Visit the Odeon for some cultural pleasure.
7. Have a walk at the Salvi Gardens. It is a perfect place if you travel with pets or/and children, or if you are just looking for some shade on a hot summer day, some calm and some fresh air.
8. Corso Andrea Palladio is a perfect place for some crazy shopping. Some of the best Italian brands and not only can be found here.
9. Looking for a very fancy dinner location? The Michelin star-awarded Aqua Crua run by the famous Chef Giuliano Baldessari in the town of Barbarano Vicentino (around 40 minutes by car from Vicenza) would be your obligatory choice. Don’t forget to book much in advance!
10. You’ve always dreamt of visiting Venice but you find its accommodation prices unbearably high? Go to Vicenza. If you compare the cost of accommodation in Venice to the cost of accommodation +train ticket fares+eventual parking fee (if you reach the train station of Vicenza by car)+return trip travel time, I am pretty sure you will be easily convinced my suggestion is worth taking into consideration.
Vicenza is a very comfortable and strategic point for reaching a lot of beautiful locations in the region of Veneto. Placed right between Venice, Padova and Verona, it offers cheaper central accommodation. Considering that the city is relatively small, it is easy to reach its centre where the train station is located, too. And then just choose a suitable strain, both from the point of view of the timetable and the tickets price (regional train fares are always lower than those of fast Freccia ones) and start the exploration of the amazing Veneto!
Photo credit: Machs Gut ©.