La Rotonda is the happy outcome of the encounter between the genius of Andrea Palladio, an architect at the peak of his career, and the nobleman from Vicenza Paolo Almerico (1514-1589), a cultured, ambitious and haughty man. He was an ecclesiastic who, after being appointed to Rome as apostolic referendary of Popes Pius IV and Pius V, retired to private life in his hometown: in 1565 he entrusted Palladio with the project for his new home on a hill near the of Vicenza, a bucolic refuge where you can spend the last years of your life away from the hostility of the city aristocracy, but at the same time a place of representation in a clearly visible position.
«In the interior this could strictly be said to be habitable, but not made to be inhabited. The hall is of the most beautiful proportions, as are the rooms; but the whole would hardly be enough for a summer residence for a distinguished family“: Goethe‘s words on a visit to the Rotonda in 1786 underline the eccentricity of this architectural project compared to the other Palladian villas. The internal spaces, in fact, are organized according to a single person, just as the geometric relationships and symbolic references are a continuous celebration of its client, Paolo Almerico: the Rotonda combines the agricultural functions of a rural Venetian villa and the sacred space of a pagan temple (as the columns of the four pronariums recall) or a Christian one (symbolized by the domed vault) in the center of which is the man of the sixteenth century. A villa-temple, therefore, where Antiquity meets the aspirations of the Renaissance nobleman and where, like a microcosm, cosmic and natural forces manifest themselves.
Neither Palladio nor Almerico saw the Rotonda completed: on the architect’s death in 1580 Vincenzo Scamozzi (1548-1616), his disciple and refined designer, took over the management of the construction site. His is the addition of the long barchessa along the driveway to the villa and the completion of the dome, no longer hemispherical as in the Palladian project, but with a lowered vault with a central oculus inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
La Rotonda can be reached from our Relais Santa Corona in about 25 minutes on foot or by renting our bicycles in 15 minutes. Relais Santa Corona in Vicenza, much better than a hotel!
Villa La Rotonda is open to ordinary visits every Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 10-12/15-18 without reservation