In and Around the City of Palladio (2)
In our last article, as you may remember, we embarked on a hibernal visit to Vicenza. This week, we shall continue, and conclude, our impassioned tour of the “City of Palladio”.
How about eating? We have been sightseeing, walking a lot, shopping for hats, drinking one or two “Spritz” (or “Spritzes”?)… Now it’s high time we fed ourselves on local specialties. One of Vicenza’s best known recipes is the delicious – and quite nourishing! – baccalà mantecato alla Vicentina, codfish cooked with milk and olive oil, and served with polenta. The ideal dish for the snowy, magical atmosphere of a cold winter day in the Veneto.
So we headed for the Osteria I Monelli, one of our favourite restaurants in Vicenza. On our way, we halted briefly to have a look at the beautiful Ponte San Michele, a Venetian style bridge straddling the Fiume Retrone, one of the two rivers flowing through the old town.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to have a starter before tucking into the main course. My husband and I ordered a sarde in saor, fried sardine fillets which have been marinated in a sauce prepared with onions, vinegar, raisins and pine nuts. An absolute delight! And a very old recipe as well: it was mentioned in a play written in the 18th century by Carlo Goldoni, and even appeared in a 14th century cookbook! I have always wondered whether the unusual sweet-and-sour taste of the sarde in saor is a legacy of the Renaissance cuisine or a throwback to Venice’s ties with the distant Orient…
After our meal, we happily resumed our exploration of Vicenza. We visited – once more – the magnificent Villa La Rotonda, one of Palladio’s most influential works. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello House (in Charlottesville, Virginia) was inspired to a large extent by La Rotonda; and countless American buildings, public or private, including the White House, have been designed and built in the Palladian style. By the way, our Trust&Travel holiday rental in Villa ai Nani – remember the villa with the Tiepolo frescoes ? – is a 5 min walk from La Rotonda.
On that beautiful winter day, the Teatro Olimpico, the Palazzo Chiericati and some lesser known Palladian architectural gems were also on our itinerary. At dusk, we dropped by Vine e Oli di Artigiani, a wine shop located under the arches of the Corso Fogazzaro, and purchased a dozen bottles of excellent organic wines from small Italian estates. This boutique is open daily from 9am to 1pm, and from 4pm to 8pm.
When Goethe visited Vicenza in 1786, he kept looking around in wonder. You’ll understand why when you follow in his steps.