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Vicenza. In the homeland of the great Palladio

Vicenza is hardly a “tourist city”, even though tourists are not uncommon here. First of all, it is an important industrial center of the Veneto region with developed mechanical engineering, textile industry and jewelry production.

This city is a real paradise for shopaholics: there are not only designer boutiques under the signs of famous brands, but also shops with local clothes at very nice prices. Goldsmiths come here from all over the world to one of the largest international exhibitions VicenzaOro. And young architects, sculptors, artists go to Vicenza in order to finally see firsthand the architectural style of “palladianism”, which they read so many times in university textbooks and which was born here, in the homeland of one of the greatest architects in world history Andrea Palladio.
The ingenious son of a miller.

Vicenza, designed in the same style and still retaining the true memory of its creator, was not without reason dubbed “the city of Andrea Palladio”. By the way, when in 1994 the Palladian masterpieces were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the number of people wishing to see this city increased markedly.

So who was Andrea Palladio – a man whose name is so harmonious? The son of rich and famous parents, whose money was ennobled Vicenza in the Renaissance? I would like to think so, but in fact the boy Andrea was born at the end of 1508 in the unknown family of the miller Pietro, nicknamed “della Gondola” and a housewife, whose name no one remembers. Until about fifteen years, Andrea lived in Padua, where from an early age he worked as an apprentice, helping his parents earn money for food. When the family moved to Vicenza, he got a job in the stone-cutting and sculpture workshop of Bartolomeo Cavazza, infamous for the poor working conditions, from where he soon fled to the famous sculptors Giovanni di Giacomo and Girolamo Pittoni.
However, the famous architect Andrea di Pietro della Gondola became many years later, when fate brought him together with the humanist poet Giangiorgio Trissino, who took the budding young man under his care. It was his acquaintance with Trissino that helped Palladio understand how important it was to get a good education, and not only in the field of architecture. It was then that the pseudonym Palladio, whispered to him by his patron friend, was born – in honor of the goddess of arts, sciences and crafts of Athena Pallas.

Perfectly prepared theoretically, soon the young specialist begins to travel a lot, studying the “living” monuments of ancient and Renaissance architecture. At the same time, he continues to tirelessly absorb the works of not only contemporaries – “senior comrades in the shop”, but also, first of all, Mark Vitruvius Pollion, a Roman engineer and theorist in architecture.

A brilliant education and a growing cool dating soon make Andrea Palladio one of the most respected and sought-after architects of the time, who barely has time to take orders. Since 1558, he has been working almost all the time in Venice, erecting churches and the so-called “city palazzos”. The miller’s son, who has become a celebrity, no longer lacks attention: he is fond of the Venetian nobility, who, for a decent salary, invites him to build villas in the vicinity of Venice and Vicenza, and in 1570 Palladio deservedly receives the title of “the most prominent citizen of the Venetian Republic”.

Theater of the Olympic gods.

The number of architectural structures belonging to the master’s hand does not lend itself to accurate calculation: Palladio was extremely prolific. However, if you ask any person who is familiar with his work, which of Palladio’s architectural masterpieces is “the most,” the answer is obvious: the last creation is the Olimpico Theater. To say that Olimpico is wonderful is to say nothing. Capable of melting even the most callous heart, this unique “temple of art” is truly worthy of the gods.

Unfortunately, Palladio did not have to work on this theater for long: in the very first year of the construction of Olimpico, the great architect unexpectedly passed away. First, his son Silla continued to work (Andrea had five children in total, four of whom were boys), and ended up with the most talented of all the students – the equally famous Vincenzo Scamozzi.

The most striking thing in Olimpiko is the central part of the stage, a color perspective, which is the diverging streets of the ancient Greek city of Thebes. While the perspective seems endless to the eye, its depth is no more than ten meters. According to Palladio, Olimpico was supposed to visually recreate the ancient theater, which, as you know, was open, and, accordingly, the city around was to be “viewed” from the stage and spectator seats. It is not surprising, therefore, that the ceiling of Olimpiko is painted under the sky, with clouds due to it, through which the rays of the sun are visible. The oval of the hall surrounded by the colonnade, as well as the facade of the stage, is richly decorated with sculptures from mythology.

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