Andy is guest blogger for this post.
While Michele and Oliver were taking I easy in Vicenza, we hit the road early to visit a few architecture projects in the surrounding area. This was the best day architecturally, we had on the Northern trip. We started with a tour of the new visitor center for the Nardini grappa distilleries designed by Massimiliano Fuksas. The project is very new and we were all
ready for some contemporary architecture. The building was amazing. It consists of two giant glass ellipsoids seemingly floating over a pool, under which is the auditorium. Even though I was familiar with Fuksas from his published work, I have never actually been to one of his buildings. It was obvious the project had a healthy budget, because the formally complexity, materials, and details were among the best I have seen in recent buildings. The PR person for Nardini gave us a slow tour and even showed us a swanky video about the process of making grappa. It is actually fermented grape vines. To make the tour complete, we all indulged in free pre-noon grappa tasting. Not much to complain about there.
We then went to the nearby Bassano were Nardini started the business just across a wooden bridge by Palladio. The day was picturesque at the foot of the alps. After lunch we were back on the bus for a bit to the Brion-Vega Cemetery by Scarpa. Scarpa is a late modernist who¹s work could be described somewhere between Louis Kahn (for his romance and love of craft
and material) and Frank Lloyd Wright (for his geometric planning and organic process). The cemetery was quite unique and again lived up to the reputation it receives in print. We also had the place to ourselves.
Back on the bus, back to Vicenza for a quick stop and Palladio¹ Teatro Olimpico. Compared to the rest of the day it was a bit of a let down, but as an architect it is kind of obligatory if you are in Vicenza. After this Palladian warm up, we were back on the bus out of town a short distance to his masterpiece, the Villa Almerico-Capra or more popularly known as Villa Rotonda. This is an ideal Renaissance villa with its total axial symmetry, domed interior with an oculus and Greek porticos. The caretaker shut the property down to the public in preparation for our private tour of the interior, making it a perfect ending to a great day of great architecture.
To make things even better, I met Oliver and Michele in town for an the best meal I have had since arriving in Italy. What a great day.