LA SERENISSIMA – October 14th

Our next destination, Vicenza, is not far from Treviso, but when I explain our itinerary to Anna, our hostess, she tilts her head to the side and coos, “Asolo.” Asolo, that lovely hillside town situated among the cypresses. There’s no easy way to get there, of course. And once we’ve negotiated the formidable incline, we are forced to confront the dreaded traffico limitata quandary. After a couple painful forays into the outer limits of the town, we settle into perpetual circumnavigation of the closest parking lot. It takes twenty minutes, but we get lucky.

Huffing (me) and striding (Joss) up the narrow cobblestone streets or sticking to the relative safety and anonymity of the arcades, many charms are discovered, including the last house the Eleanora Duse lived in. Duse was Sarah Bernhardt and Ellen Terry’s only competition. Her final resting place can also be found somewhere in Asolo, but not by us. We retreat to the main piazza in hopes of turning lunch from a theory into a practice. We score a table outdoors on the piazza and order a Caprese salad and two ‘toasts’, a grilled ham-and-cheese of sorts. Slim Italian men in navy crewneck sweaters are everywhere. So are spandex-clad, long-in-the-tooth cyclists, a very bro-ish crew high on accomplishment.

It’s a long and circuitous route to Vicenza from Asolo, because, in GPSia, there is no simple, matter-of-fact ‘Point A to Point B’. We wend our way in the city center, park, and walk, but there’s no need. Hotel Campo Marzio has parking. With the VW shuffle accomplished, we accommodate to our snug accommodations. Both our rooms are dorm-size, with just a single bed. And a bidet, always with the bidet. Yeah, the thumping beat of spin class music that penetrates the double-glazed window from God Knows Where.

A flier in the lobby promotes a Van Gogh exhibition at the Basilica Palladiana. We’ve got time this afternoon. The Kröller-Müller Museum contains the second largest collection of Vincent in Holland and has contributed 40 some odd paintings and 80 drawings. Eschewing the audio guide, the work still dazzles. These paintings cover his career and I’ve never seen any of them, not even in books. Immediately upon exiting, we commit to going first thing tomorrow, but with the audio thingie.

Vicenza harbors quite a bit of Andrea Palladio’s work, his classic civic projects, like the Basilica Palladiana and the Teatro Olympico, as well as his most iconic domestic work – La Rotonda. The Basilica Palladiana fills one side of the Piazza dei Signori. Its great bronze roof is supported and surrounded by a dramatically compelling double loggia, a two-story arcade of marble arches and brick vaulting. After Vincent, Joss and I perambulate the loggia, an ideal place to decompress. We stop to watch a fire eater below work an amiable crowd.

We order two splendid pizzas, but don’t finish ‘em.

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