Vicenza, the city of Palladian villas built by famous Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, boasts the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites; the town alone features thirty-nine – including palaces, villas and churches – with an additional 16 villas in the province, that increase the total heritage sites to forty-seven.

The heart of Vicenza is the majestic Palladian Basilica, renovated in 2012 and surrounded by magnificent aristocratic palaces including the Loggia del Capitaniato, the neoclassical Palazzo Chiericati and Casa Pigafetta (home of the explorer Antonio Pigafetta), with its elaborate Gothic decorations. Just outside the historic centre, the Rotonda the most famous villa designed by Palladio – is definetly worth a visit. If you want to learn something more about this incredible architect, visit the Palladio Museum housed within Palazzo Barbarano, designed by the architect himself.

One of Vicenza’s artistic marvels, the Teatro Olimpico was also designed by Andrea Palladio in 1580. It is the oldest and first covered “Teatro Stabile” (stage set/theatrical scenery) in the world. Its interior simulates the outdoor setting of classical theatres, with a monumental rectangular proscenium built to host its inaugural performance in 1585. Seven wooden perspective scenes depicting the streets of Thebes depart from here in a sunburst pattern. Included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1994, it continues to host performances and concerts.