VICENZA, Italy — If you want to break away from the crowds that make Venice a poster child for the term “overtourism” and you love architecture, there is one place you must go: nearby Vicenza, a showcase for the work of the renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.
Palladio, who lived from 1508 to 1580, drew inspiration from the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, transforming these models into masterpieces that influenced everything from English country houses to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
The most famous of his works, the transcendent hilltop mansion called the Villa Rotonda, is a short taxi, bus or bike ride from Vicenza’s compact, largely car-free town center, where the main street bears Palladio’s name.
The town center itself is stocked with impressive Palladio buildings, including numerous town palaces, or palazzi, one of which houses an excellent and engaging museum devoted entirely to the architect.
In the surrounding countryside are Palladio’s villas, where the architect combined opulent living quarters and working farm buildings into coherent complexes that married nature with culture, rusticity and urbanity.
Located about 40 miles west of Venice, with a population of about 112,000, Vicenza (pronounced vi-CHEN-zah) is an ideal day trip. I took a red, sleek-nosed Italo train from Venice’s Santa Lucia station. (Round-trip fare was just under 38 euros, or roughly $42. The