Vicenza, in the north-east of Italy, was founded in the 2nd century BC but it became a center of primary importance only under the Venetian government, between the fifteenth and the eighteenth century.
The golden age of Vicenza began in 1540, when the Venetian aristocracy reorganized the city and its countryside and Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, known as Palladio, one of the leading architects of the time, was commissioned to design the new residences of property of the Venetian nobles. In those years Vicenza is adorned with marvelous private buildings and public buildings and extraordinary villas are planned in the countryside.
The buildings designed by Palladio create a continuous dialectic between ancient and modern and are recognizable by their elegance, balance and symmetry. With his works, Palladio modifies the urban layout of the city and part of the surrounding landscape, creating an original living interpretation of classical antiquity that will profoundly influence urban planning and the landscape of European countries and around the world.
The works of Palladio recognized as World Heritage consist of 23 palaces in Vicenza and 24 villas in the surrounding area. The palaces are inserted into the urban fabric of the medieval city and create a picturesque collection of Venetian Gothic style and Palladian classicism inspired by classical Roman architecture.
The Palladian Villas of Veneto, in which the functional aspects of land management and the self-celebration of the noble owners are summarized, are temples-houses, embellished with monumental staircases and crowned by a pediment supported by the columns of a loggia. Along the wings that start at the sides of the façades extend the arcades that often end with a tower.
In these villas, rationality and functionality are closely linked to the symbolic and ideological expression that the urban and country villa has the task of transmitting: it is a center of power, but also a place of delight, culture and beauty. The Palladian villa is conceived as a humanistic recovery of the ancient Roman villa, moving away from the idea of a medieval villa-castle, where the war-defensive function prevailed
In addition to the intrinsic value of each individual villa, the set of villas is a very important element within the region, since the formal relationship between the villas and the Veneto landscape reveals a unique quality that gives it a universal value.
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