The beautiful city of Vicenza lives in the shadow of its nearest neighbour, Venice, but is a truly remarkable destination in its own right, which escapes the tourist hordes who flock to see Venice's plentiful famous attractions.
Vicenza is a small yet perfectly formed city, whose most famous son, Andrea Palladio, was born just over 500 years ago. The historic centre, which is hugely influence by Palladio, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - a haven of peaceful town squares, grand mansions, porticoed streets, fabulous museums and art galleries, and constant reminders of the city's wealth in days gone by.
Despite the evidence of Vicenza as a prosperous city, the local culinary specialities reflect times of real poverty. Although the term "cucina povera" (cuisine of the poor) is associated with Tuscany, the local cooking associated with Vicenza comes from a time of extreme hardship in the city. The most famous of these is Baccala alla Vicenza, a dish of dried cod served with polenta. Other typical dishes include pea risotto and stewed tripe.
The must-see sight in Vicenza is the Teatro Olimpico, Palladio's final masterpiece and one of the cultural wonders of the world. Its construction began only a few months before the architect's death, so he never saw the finished building. The masterpiece is the oldest enclosed theatre in the world.