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Vicenza: the secret “Rotonda”.

The Rotonda, located on the outskirts of Vicenza , is an architectural masterpiece born from the meeting between the ingenuity of Andrea Palladio and the vision of Paolo Almerico. The latter, a cultured 16th century ecclesiastic, commissioned Palladio in 1565 to create this extraordinary residence. Paolo Almerico, known for his role as apostolic referendary of Popes Pius IV and Pius V in Rome, chose this place as a bucolic refuge to spend the last years of his life. However, La Rotonda had to be much more than just a home – it had to be a visible and one-of-a-kind symbol of representation.

The architecture of the villa

The Rotonda stands out from other Palladian villas for its eccentricity. The interior spaces, different from other residences of the time, were designed for a single person. The proportions and symbolic references within the building are an ongoing celebration of its client, Paolo Almerico .

This villa combines the agricultural functions of a typical Venetian rural villa with the sacral dimension of a temple, both pagan (represented by the columns of the four pronai) and Christian (symbolized by the dome). At the center of all this stands the sixteenth century man , Paolo Almerico, whose spirit and ambition are intrinsically linked to this unique structure.

The decorations of La Rotonda: all to be discovered

The interior of the Rotonda is a riot of frescoes and stuccoes. Each generation of owners brought in new decorations to reflect the trends of the time. The statues outside, created by sculptors such as Lorenzo Rubini, adorn the stairs and contribute to the grandeur of the building.

The 16th and 17th century frescoes, created by artists such as Alessandro Maganza , represent allegories of religion and virtues. The stuccos, belonging to different periods, are rich and imaginative. These decorative elements transform the Rotunda into an artistic treasure.

The Rotonda of Vicenza is a UNESCO heritage site and a global symbol of culture

In 1994, the Rotunda received UNESCO's prestigious recognition as a World Heritage Site , becoming the first Palladian monument to achieve such an honor. Over the centuries, it has been visited by illustrious personalities, including artists, architects, writers and even sovereigns. It has also been used as a film set, with memorable scenes filmed on its steps.

The Rotonda did not remain confined to Vicenza or Italy. It has influenced architecture around the world. The English architect Inigo Jones , after a trip to Italy, brought Palladianism to England, spreading the architectural principles of the Rotunda across the Channel. This style spread throughout Europe, Russia, and even the United States, where Thomas Jefferson , the third president of the United States and architect, adopted Palladian principles for the construction of iconic buildings such as the White House and the Capitol in Washington. The Rotunda remained a universal symbol of balance and harmony of proportions, continuing to influence architects around the world into the 20th century.

The history of La Rotonda di Vicenza

Palladio's death in 1580 led Vincenzo Scamozzi , his disciple, to direct the continuation of the construction of the Rotunda. Scamozzi made some significant changes to the original project, including the addition of a long barchessa along the access avenue and the completion of the dome with a lowered vault, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. These changes gave a distinctive touch to the building, although Palladio was not alive to see it. After the death of Paolo Almerico in 1589, the villa passed to the Capra family , nobles from Vicenza.

During their possession, the villa underwent numerous interventions and transformations to adapt to the changes in taste of the time. These interventions included fresco decorations, stucco, sculptures and even the construction of a chapel. During the Second World War, it was partially occupied and damaged by the Germans. However, major restoration work began in 1976, making it possible for it to be opened to the public in 1980 .

Stay overnight in Vicenza

To discover Vicenza with its beautiful Villa La Rotonda, the Palladian treasures and the ancient Roman remains , a single day, even if intense, is not enough. For this reason it is always advisable to prepare properly by taking into consideration staying a few more days by safely booking an overnight stay .


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