Letter from Vicenza

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 11.54.08 AMThe most fabulous sight in Vicenza is undoubtedly the Teatro Olimpico of Palladio (1580). I am now engaged in an email discussion with a couple of art history buffs on whether it’s the most impressive interior space in the Western world. One has suggested Sainte-Chapelle as a possible rival; another the Palatine Chapel in Palermo; another the rococo church of Vierzehnheiligen in Franconia; there are many contenders. The Teatro Olimpico also provides, as lagniappe, a tasteful and evocative outdoor arrangement of old stones, in the manner of Torcello or Pomposa.

Second is the Villa Valmarana ai Nani with its frescos by father and son Tiepolo (1757). There is an Iliad Room with various exciting depictions of scenes from that epic: the abduction of Briseis from the tent of Achilles and her presentation to Agamemnon, and another scene of the Rage of Achilles thereat: he is about to assault Agamemnon but is restrained by Athena tugging on his hair. Very gratifying, since our class is now on Book 23 of the Iliad, our second go-round (the class in now in its 35th year). And finally the Nani or dwarfs mounted on the wall of the villa, extremely quaint.

Thomas B. Lemann

One Response to “Letter from Vicenza”

  1. Thomas, I’m reading these letters and positively salivating! I want to hop on the airtrain to JFK and get on a plane immediately!

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