Palladian Routes allowed us, during our Veneto on the road, to discover Berici Hills and the jewels kept in the splendid scenery of the green lung of Vicenza, with an E-Bike tour between the historical and artistic heritage of Palladian Villas and Monte Berico on which stands the sanctuary dedicated to the patron saint of the city.
By E-Bike among Palladian villas
Monte Berico is a hill covered with cypresses from whose top you can enjoy a beautiful view of Vicenza and is connected to the city center by a large avenue flanked by arcades along which there are numerous chapels, built for pilgrims who go up to the Basilica. This was built in the fifteenth century and enlarged in the eighteenth, and is dedicated to the Virgin who appeared in this place during the plague of 1426-28 to announce that Vicenza would be spared from the epidemic.
The ride on electric bicycles equipped with a charger, a smartphone with preloaded GPS tracks to allow, thanks to a specially developed app, to follow the itinerary with ease and safety, a generous and waterproof saddle bag and a lock, starts from Arco delle Scalette designed by Palladio which climbs to Monte Berico through 192 steps.
From here the cycle path winds its way which, along the Riviera Berica, allows you to admire Villa Capra known as “La Rotonda”, a majestic work by Palladio, and Villa Valmarana ai Nani, known for the stone sculptures placed along the walls that delimits the park and for the frescoes by Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo.
This itinerary is part of the excursions proposed by Palladian Routes among the numerous cycling tours of historical-cultural, landscape and food and wine interest that depart from the residence chosen for the stay. In our case, the tour started from Palazzo Valmarana Braga which hosted us during our stay in Vicenza and is the operational headquarters of Palladian Routes, Destination Management Company and Tour operator born as a spin-off of the Palladian Itineraries Network, the network of company founded by the owners of the private Palladian villas which constitute the Unesco heritage of Veneto region.
Our tour, which developed in two stages, included the rental of E-Bikes, visits to the Palladian Villas and bike-nic, as well as technical and local assistance at all times.
In fact, as the Director Manuel Gazzola explained to us, Palladian Routes is a project born from the idea of offering an excellent cultural tourist service by opening the doors of the most inaccessible local treasures to the traveler, within organized tours made of sought-after and unique experiences, for true connoisseurs.
For us, in fact, have opened wide the doors of Villa Almerico Capra, known as “La Rotonda”, which with its regular and symmetrical shapes constitutes the essence of Palladio’s architecture, simple but extraordinarily elegant, which has become one of the most imitated by modern architecture, so much so that it even influenced the White House project in Washington.
Doctor Tiziana Spinelli, who accompanied us on our exclusive visit, told us that it was commissioned to the famous architect by Paolo Almerico, a Vicentine clergyman who wanted a home on the outskirts of Vicenza where he could retire at the end of his career at the papal court of Pius III and Pius V in Rome.
Built on a hillock, it stands out majestically with its cube-like structure inspired by the Roman Pantheon surmounted by a dome, 4 identical facades with pronaos and stairways and 6 Ionic columns. Inside, the rooms are arranged around the central circular hall decorated with wonderful paintings and sculptures. After the death of Paolo Almerico, the villa passed to his natural son Virginio, who dissipated his father’s wealth and sold La Rotonda to Odorico Capra in 1591. Since 1911 the villa has been owned by the Valmarana family of Venice, who opened it to the public since 1986.
Nearby is Villa Valmarana ai Nani, which we reached with our bicycles, skirting the wall surmounted by the 17 statues to which we owe part of the name.
Inside the Palazzina, the walls are covered with paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo that seem to defy gravity with scenes from the works of Homer and Virgil, Orlando Furioso and Gerusalemme Liberata.
In the Foresteria, the part reserved for guests, the bucolic-themed frescoes, but more realistic, are by Giandomenico, son of Tiepolo, and the only existing portrait of Andrea Palladio attributed to the painter Giovanbattista Maganza hangs on the main wall of the atrium.
Villa Valmarana ai Nani is the only place in the world where you can admire the art of the two Tiepolos in comparison, and it is still inhabited by the Valmarana family, who commissioned the frescoes from the Tiepolos in 1757.
After visiting the 13 frescoed rooms of Palazzina and Foresteria, you can stroll in the splendid garden and stop for a break at the café located in the ancient kitchen of the Foresteria and on the terrace with a special view of the ancient stables and the suggestive Valletta del Silenzio dominated by the Basilica of Monte Berico.
Precisely in Valletta del Silenzio, a protected area of extraordinary interest close to the Villa La Rotonda, we enjoyed our bike-nic accompanied by a backpack with everything necessary for a snack based on the most typical flavors of the territory, from sopressa to bacalà alla vicentina, from sardines in saor with polenta to dry sweet biscuits and fruit: an en plein air lunch completed by the indispensable prosecco.
The picnic is just one of the many proposals of Palladian Routes which focuses on the territory included in the western and central area of the Veneto, but which has recently opened to the main destinations of the peninsula, with the same philosophy that is based on the offer of accommodations sophisticated with overnight stays in historic homes and a wide range of choices ranging from the B&B solution to the 5-star residence.
We wanted to test this experience by staying for two nights at Palazzo Valmarana Braga and from here starting our E-Bike tour between Vicenza and the surrounding villas, letting us tell the stories of the buildings directly from those who lived there such as Isabella Nogarole widow of Giovanni Alvise Valmarana who commissioned the family palace from Palladio.
But the Palladian Routes formula is flexible, customizable for each customer target and extremely agile in the proposal: destinations to be reached with your own car, a wide variety of choice of specific territory, residences and tours that can be carried out daily. A game of ingredients designed to easily create the perfect cocktail for every single tourist, which can be declined without complications for the individual, the couple, the family or the group. And also for those like us who travel with a four-legged friend!
Palazzo Valmarana Braga – Corso Fogazzaro, 16 – Vicenza
Info: +39 0444 1270212 – +39 392 3601161
https://it.palladianroutes.com – experience.palladianroutes.com firstname.lastname@example.org