|January 26, 2020 Follow us|
Two plus sides to Vicenza
Vicenza, in the Veneto, is a hidden jewel that is well worth exploring. Stanley Moss looks at two properties, on opposite ends of the design scale, that are united by personal service
Few people can name the historic town of Vicenza. Recognized by the cognoscenti for the greatest collection of Palladian architecture in one location, it slumbers in the northern Italian region known as the Veneto, tucked in between the better known cities of Padova and Verona. But this tiny jewel deserves a visit, and can stand as both a tranquil and economic base for visiting the local area, which is rich in culture, food and commerce.
Geographically, there are high and low angles on Vicenza lodging, counter-intuitively speaking. One recommended luxury property nestles among the lanes of the old mediæval city, while an interesting budget choice perches up on a hill overlooking downtown. Both are possibilities for getting to know the historic home of the great Palladio, and each offers its own advantages.
Comfort and convenience characterize Hotel Palladio, a four-star, mostly-business hotel situated one minute from the Basilica Palladiana and Piazza Signori. This discreet property of 22 rooms places you a breath away from all the action. It has a high style IQ, with unexpected advantages for wine-lovers. Housed within 15th century walls, behind an 18th century façade, a 2008 renovation turned the interior into a minimalist architectural showcase with each room uniquely designed by an expert hand. In this hotel, the room is the art: great bathrooms, showers, all-natural Venetian amenities, robes on request, mirrors, cool furnishings, custom built-ins, views, safes in every room. You’ll find free wifi throughout, and a meeting room that holds 25–30. A bountiful breakfast of local delicacies and home-baked breads are included in the rate, in-room or downstairs.
This word-of-mouth property doesn’t advertise, basing its lively repeat business on reputation. Partnerships with top local wineries add the extra dimension to the experience, featuring packages that include excursions to Venice, œno-tourism nights at albergos in Asiago and Valpolicella, and exceptional hand-picked regional vintages poured in the hotel’s modern bar. Check out the website, or telephone for special seasonal offers or custom packages.
We liked Suite 302 with its full terrace, king bed and church view. Junior Suite 108 has a lofted bedroom and bath up a space-age staircase. Prices start just above €100 for a comfy single. One caution: parking is restricted from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the ancient lanes outside the hotel, so plan accordingly.
Location, budget and charm are the watchwords for Albergo San Raffaele, a two-star tourist hotel of 29 rooms, set high along the porticos whose 710 steps lead up to the Holy Mary Sanctuary, an important shrine on Monte Berico. The 100-year-old property sits just below the windswept Piazzala della Vittoria with its lofty view overlooking the red roofs of the old city. Spacious rooms start at €49 a night (not a typo!). This clean-and-tidy vintage property has a lived-in feel, a bit like your elderly aunt’s apartment you’re waiting to inherit. It’s a 15-minute aerobic hike up from the train station (taxi approximately €10). Gravity favours you on the 10-minute stroll back into town.
The bathrooms are large and tiled, the water is hot and the pressure is good, they give you plenty of towels and the service staff are definitely warm and helpful and human. The accommodation looks austere, but who stays in their room in Vicenza? Several good restaurants can be found within walking distance. An heroic vaulted meeting room can handle up to 80 and the hotel has its own big parking lot. This could be a good budget property to take over for a family wedding, reunion or corporate retreat, with authentic old-world ambience harking back to simpler times. •
Albergo San Raffaele
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