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The Palladian Basilica – Vicenza

he Palladian Basilica is a public building facing onto the Piazza dei Signori. Its name is linked to Andrea Palladio, who redesigned it, adding the famous loggias with serliana openings in white marble to the existing Gothic building. The building on which Palladio worked was the Palazzo della Ragione, built in Gothic style in the mid-fifteenth century. The upper floor is entirely taken up by an enormous hall with no intermediate supports, where the Council of the Four Hundred met. The copper-lined, inverted ship’s-hull roof was inspired by that of the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua. The Gothic facade was originally clad with diamonds of red and straw yellow Verona marble, which are still visible behind Palladio’s addition. A loggia surrounding the building was commissioned after its completion, but continually delayed due to various structural difficulties and the nature of the ground beneath. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the double order of porticoes and loggias, though not complete, collapsed. The Council called on many leading architects of the time to resolve the difficult problem of its reconstruction. They included Jacopo Sansovino, Sebastiano Serlio and Giulio Romano. The project was awarded to Andrea Palladio (1508-80) in 1549, following a competition, and he worked on it for the rest of his life. It was completed posthumously in 1614. The reconstructed building was called a basilica by Palladio himself, who had been inspired by the model of the Roman basilica for civic use.

The building has three independent exhibition spaces that are used to host architecture and art exhibitions of international renown.

Information: www.museicivicivicenza.it


Sirmione: Tour ruins of first-century Roman villa at Garda

The Grottoes of Catullus have nothing to do with caves, or Cattulus. But it is still easy to see how the place got its name. The ruins of a Roman villa at the end of the town of Sirmione on Italy’s Lake Garda resembled a series of caves when they were rediscovered in the 15th century. The villa was named for the Veronese poet Gaius Valerio Cattulus because he owned a home on the peninsula that he described in loving terms. Today, researchers believe the extensive ruins are from a grand home started near the end of the first century B.C., after the poet is believed to have died. It was built for a wealthy family from Verona, in whose territory Sirmione lay during the Roman period. The villa is on the end of a tip of land poking into the lake, with gorgeous views on three sides.

Information: The city’s official Web site, www.comune.sirmione.bs.it, includes some tourist information, but is in Italian only. The city’s tourist office is at Viale Marconi 2; its telephone number is 030-916-114.

The Arena – Verona’s most famous monument

The Arena – Verona’s most famous monument, visited by tourists world-wide.
If you contemplate it in silence, it’s not difficult to imagine it crammed with spectators as in Roman times: all you need do is shut your eyes or go to see one of the splendid opera performances held here and the Arena will come magically to life.
Situated in Piazza Bra’, the Amphitheatre was built in the first half of the 1st century A.D., in the period which marked the end of Augustus’ reign and the beginning of that of Claudius. It is the third largest amphitheatre in Italy, after the Colosseum and the amphitheatre of Capua.

Information: www.comune.verona.it