What better way to discover Vicenza and experience the Palladian architectural treasures than to book a stay at the Palazzo Valmarana Braga? The palace was built in 1565 by Andrea Palladio, the renowned Italian architect whose outstanding buildings have contributed greatly to the city that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Greatly influenced by classical Roman architecture, Palladio adhered to these same principles in his own designs and he is considered the most influential individual in the history of Western architecture. The majority of the palaces he conceived are concentrated in this city and I can hardly believe I am staying in one of them!
The façade of Palazzo Valmarana Braga is held to be one of Palladio’s most extraordinary and remains intact with its giant pilasters and bas-relief sculptures. The roof, attic and most of the main hall of the piano nobile were destroyed by an Allied bombing in the second World War. The ruined palace was purchased in 1960 by the current owner Vittor Luigi Braga Rosa and it is due to his vision and sheer force of will that the palace has been restored and is lived in today. His daughter, Francesca, an architect herself and a woman much inspired by her father, has many interests, not the least of which is her devotion to the palace. A hostess extraordinaire, she sees to the comfort of her guests that now have the honor to stay in any of several apartments within the original palace.
Our apartment is large; its floors are the original terrazzo so typical of the Veneto, and the ceilings coffered and beamed. With windows open to catch the cross-breeze, the large soggiorno offers a perfect place to relax and to dine – that is if one wishes to use the kitchen while on vacation!
During our stay we have the honor to meet Francesca’s father, Vittor Luigi, an old-world gentleman who is kind enough to guide us through the halls and magnificent rooms of the piano nobile, showing us the hall where he painstakingly commissioned the reproduction of the terra cotta floor originally designed by Palladio, but destroyed in the bombing. He has filled the rooms with an impressive collection of 16th century paintings and Murano glass chandeliers. The décor of the rooms is rich without being opulent, and what’s more, they are truly “lived” in, put to use for grand events or just as readily for the family to enjoy an informal dinner with friends. We experience the warmth and relaxed geniality of the family when Francesca invites us to join them for a wonderful home-cooked meal. The children scamper about, playfully at home in their surroundings. An intimate layer of Vicentine life and we got to taste its sweetness!
All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson
Palazzo Valmarana Braga
Corso Antonio Fogazzaro, 16, Vicenza ~ Veneto, Italy
Palazzo Valmarana Braga ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson