Palladio’s 192-Step Program

October 24, 2013 / Places
Vicenza, Veneto

In the Borgo Berga neighborhood of Vicenza’s centro storico (Historic Center) stands an architectural project that was commissioned centuries ago by the Republic of Venice and designed by Renaissance master builder Andrea Palladio: L’Arco delle Scalette (The Arch of the Steps).

L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

Part of the greater UNESCO World Heritage site that is the City of Palladio, the Arch marks the starting point of a scenic route up the hill that dominates the scene: Monte Berico and its beautiful Santuario della Madonna di Monte Berico.

L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

The ornate gateway stands on the very spot where legend has it the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared before a peasant woman, not once, but twice; first in 1426 and again in 1428.

Designed by Palladio around 1576, construction of the Arch began in 1580 and was finally completed in 1595.

Inspired by the grandiose buildings of ancient Rome, the triumphal arch — nearly completely destroyed during a World War II bombing raid over Vicenza —  is everything one would expect from the master visionary, Palladio.

L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

At the top of the arch, sculptured by Giambattista Albanese, stands the Lion of Saint Mark bookended by Carpoforo and Leonzio, two protectorate saints. Inside the two columns of the arch are niches displaying statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Archangel Gabriel, both sculptured by late-Baroque period artist Orazio Marinali.

L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

The scalette, 192 steps divided into 32 flights, formed the only hardscape route to the Santuario until the construction of an 18th century, two-section, covered arcade made the hike up to Monte Berico much easier.

L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

The next time you’re in my fair city, or visit for the very first time, you must stop by L’Arco delle Scalette and then give Palladio’s 192-step program a try.

L'Arco delle Scalette - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian Traveler.com, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based TravelingBoy.com, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

8 Responses to “Palladio’s 192-Step Program”

  1. Mairin O'Mahony

    Thank you for bringing back memories of a delightful (and arduous!) visit to this beautiful city. Time for another trip here!

    Reply
  2. George Lanzillo

    This city is a gem, there is beauty everywhere, the people,the food and the art. Thank you

    Reply
  3. Just beautiful, mille grazie. I am now reading the book “A perfect house” about Palladio – very interesting and keeps one engaged, given it’s largely a discourse about buildings!

    Reply

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