Villa Rotonda Vicenza — 5 great reasons to visit
The first thing you should know about visiting Villa Rotonda Vicenza is that there’s no nearby parking.
I begin with this piece of advice, as we found out the hard way. After driving twice around the vicinity, we finally realized that the main road, Viale Riviera Berica, was the best solution.
It was far different from our visit to Villa Cordellina Lombardi in Montecchio Maggiore, which had an entire parking lot. From the main road, it’s a short walk to the Via della Rotonda — the street leading to the villa’s entrance.
The scene takes a complete 360° once you leave behind the sound of the passing cars from the main road. A walk dotted with a mix of residential homes and towering trees, it sets the scene well.
The entrance to Villa Rotonda is a high stone wall, surrounded by pillars, both of which support the central iron gate.
A doorway to the right leads to the visitor entrance and the ticket office. On first glance, Villa Rotonda might appear to be just another big estate. However, a quick peek behind its iron gates suggests otherwise.
The man behind the design — Villa Rotonda Vicenza
Dating to the 16th century, Villa Rotonda is one of many villas in Veneto designed by Andrea Palladio. The renowned architect was born in Padova in 1508, but resided in Vicenza for most of his life.
An astute interpreter of the demands of Venetian nobility, many of the villas represented the families’ rural aspirations.
Palladio designed Villa Rotonda for Paolo Almerico, a nobleman from Vicenza. After his death, the villa was passed down to his sons. When they passed, it underwent different stages of ownership, before eventually being acquired by the Valmarana family in 1912.
Palladio’s other notable architectural works of art include the Basillica Palladiana in Piazza dei Signori, the historic center of Vicenza. You can also see examples of his work in Venice, in the form of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Most of Palladio’s work follows a Palladian and Renaissance architectural style. While there are more of Palladio’s villas to visit in Veneto, our journey begins here. Here are 5 great reasons to visit Villa Rotonda in Vicenza.
The view of Villa Rotonda on the outskirts of Vicenza, Italy
“Perfectly manicured lawns frame the scale of the villa, allowing you a moment to stop and take it all in.”
1. The garden grounds are huge
On a sunny, and still warm autumn day, the gardens of Villa Rotonda are the Venetian icing on the cake.
A series of stone statues line the walls along the gravel path as you make your way towards the house.
Perfectly manicured lawns frame the scale of the villa, allowing you a moment to stop and take it all in. Set against the backdrop of the autumnal colors of Veneto, it’s a sight that deserves to be savored.
The gardens stretch not only around the villa, but also includes the land heading towards the main road. That said, be sure to explore the entire grounds, and not just the immediate surroundings.
Manicured lawns and Renaissance-style gardens at Villa Rotonda Vicenza
2. The central dome will leave you speechless
As you enter the villa, rope barriers direct you around the house room by room.
There weren’t any visible signs, or information, indicating which room was used for what. I could be wrong, but I think it was due to the rules in place given the situation during our visit.
Instead, we scanned the QR code at the entrance to receive more information on the villa. There’s also the option to join a group tour or to have a private tour. These need to be booked in advance.
Look up in awe — Villa Rotonda Vicenza
Without a doubt, the star of the interior of Villa Rotonda is the dome at the center of the house. Taking after the villa’s name, ‘rotonda’ meaning round, the lobby resembles a mini art gallery.
An array of colorful frescos and stuccos adorn the walls leading up to the circular roof. In the center, a round glass window allows a beam of light to shine directly down onto a circular pattern.
The villa’s perfect symmetry is evident here, with 4 doors in each corner, each leading to a metal staircase. Something to note here, is that the stairs were closed to the public during our visit. Whether this was due to the current situation again wasn’t clear. We were only able to take a peek at its wonderful spiral design.
As you wander around the remaining rooms, be prepared to experience some light neck pain. Nearly all of the rooms in the house have a stupendous painted ceiling, reinforced by intricate cornices and ornate details.
Be prepared for neck ache on your visit to Villa Rotonda
3. More to see
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the interior, there’s plenty more to see around the villa’s grounds. Towards the left side of Villa Rotonda is an old well with an archway decorated with vines and leaves.
It’s also around this side of the house that you get to see inside the ground floor of Villa Rotonda. While closed off to the public, the floor was once used as service rooms.
As you continue to walk around the grounds, you’ll find another set of grand steps leading to the back door. This again, keeps in line with Palladio’s symmetrical vision when designing Villa Rotonda.
The well and gardens at Villa Rotonda, Vicenza
4. The panoramic views
I lost count of how many great viewing points we came across, not just of the villa, but further afield.
The corners of the villa’s walls are just one notable spot. Capture the land in the distance, as well as the essence of the Venetian countryside.
On the other side of the grounds is a vista of what I can only describe as classically Veneto. By this, I mean a scene with a Venetian villa in the hills, poplar trees around and a vineyard below.
You can find this viewpoint as you walk towards the ‘barchessa’. It’s the colonnade adjacent to the gravel path you first walked along when entering Villa Rotonda.
La barchessa at Villa Rotonda, Vicenza
5. It’s not overly crowded
Given its location just on the outskirts of Vicenza’s city center, you won’t find long lines forming outside Villa Rotonda.
While there was a good number of visitors during our visit, it wasn’t anything compared to Doge’s Palace in Venice.
At Villa Rotonda, you can peacefully enjoy the house and the grounds, and leave having had an all-round positive experience.
No risk of overcrowding at Villa Rotonda
Tips for visiting Villa Rotonda
Autumn, particularly October, is a good time to visit. The weather’s still good in northern Italy, and warm enough, to comfortably enjoy the villa and grounds.
Wear appropriate walking shoes
There’s a lot of walking to do from Viale Riviera Berica as well as around the garden grounds.
Another place of interest to see after visiting Villa Rotonda is Villa Valmarana ai nani. This villa and art museum’s a short walk from Via della Rotonda, with steps leading up Via Valmarana.
Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of steps between the two villas, so comfortable walking shoes are a must.
Bring a camera
It goes without saying, that a visit to Villa Rotonda without a camera or good smartphone just isn’t worth visiting.
Not only is the exterior of the house an architectural masterpiece to photograph, but the grounds are also photo worthy.
Stop by a local pasticceria
There isn’t a café on the grounds of Villa Rotonda. However, there’s Pasticceria al Gallo Vicenza if you need an energy boost after your visit. Better yet, it’s also en route as you head back to your car.
They’ve a great selection of coffee, pastries and a tantalizing display of local Italian desserts.
Pasticceria al Gallo, Viale Riviera Berica 84
Tickets for Villa Rotonda cost €10* ($12/£9) for entry to the house and gardens. It costs €5* ($5.9/£4.5) for entry to the gardens.
Check the website for the most up-to-date opening times and ticket prices.
Villa Rotonda, Via della Rotonda, 45 36100, Vicenza
The villa through the trees at Villa Rotonda in Vicenza
What are your thoughts on Villa Rotonda? Would you like to step inside this Palladian masterpiece? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
*Prices correct at the time of publishing.
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience, a demographic (late 20s onward) that enjoys glamping over camping and staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels. Flashpackers also like to indulge in the local food and wine, cultural activities, as well as a spot of wellness on their travels. Want to know more? Read on....