Andrea Palladio–the wise one of Venice

Anonymous portrait of Palladio, copied by G.B. Maganza, Public Domain,
Anonymous portrait of Palladio, copied by G.B. Maganza, Public Domain,

“You’re asking me how the Rinascimento/Renaissance affects your life?” Papa grinned at me. “Lucia, the Renaissance is right before your eyes here in Venice, if you know where to look! I’ll show you.”

My father promised that after Mass next Sunday, he’d take me around Venice, by foot and gondola, and show me the buildings designed by Andrea Palladio, the great architect that Venice claims as its own.

What makes Palladio an architect of the Renaissance? Here’s how my father explained it: Palladio looked back to ancient Roman architecture as his inspiration, and incorporated its best features into his own buildings. He spent years carving monuments and sculpture before his employer, Gian Giorgio Trissino, sent him to Rome to study ancient architecture and the writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius.

Palladio returned to Venetian territory and designed buildings using classical Roman style. His employer was so impressed by the new designs that he gave the young Andrea a new surname, Palladio (Greek for “Wise One”).

Papa says the Venetian Republic loves Palladio’s style because Venice is a worthy heir of the ancient Roman Empire.

Our tour won’t take me to see the many buildings Palladio designed before he came to Venice, but Papa assures me there will be plenty to see in our city.

“One more thing, Lucia. He was a writer as well as an architect.” My father pulled a book from his shelf and showed me Palladio’s guide to Rome’s classical ruins, containing the architect’s own sketches. Papa told me that Palladio’s other written work, Quattro Libri dell’ Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) revealed his design secrets and gave advice to builders, so every architect in Venice wants a copy. As soon as people view his buildings, they can see that Palladio is the “Wise One.”

I’m counting the days until my tour, and will report on it next time!



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