Sometimes, researching for story-making can be like drowning in a molasses bin of facts and images. Vicenza, our current Italian stay before we head for Venice is the other setting for my novel work-in-progress, The Four Seasons of Caterina. I knew what I wanted to research here, but the architectural beauty of ancient Vicenza within its historical walls is overwhelming. The act of story-searching could fall by the wayside so easily.
This is the city of the renown Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio. Regarded as the most influential architect in history, you can read more about his extraordinary work here. Andrea was the 'trend-setter' of the 1500s, influencing architects from foreign countries who took up the Palladio style.
So, why is this children's author getting so excited by an Italian Renaissance architect when she's supposed to be searching for her story? I have a reason, I promise.
My character, Caterina ends up in Vicenza in 1715. It's here she must face not just her mortal enemies, but her own guilt, and I needed to find the right place for this to happen - like one of Palladio's villas. Sure, I can get that on the internet, but it won't tell you how a place feels, smells, sounds.
Like ... sometimes when you walk on a terrazzo floor laid in the 1500s, the grit from tiny crumbling cracks sticks to your bare feet. Imagine being inside a Vicenza palazzo in the middle of winter? You'd be as warm as toast with the internal heating because of the thick limestone walls. How do I know this? Here's the serendipitous bit.
I chose our Vicenza accommodation on Booking. com because I liked the name of the place, and it was very reasonable, around 90 Euro per night for an apartment. The bed in the Palazzo Valmarana Braga looked pretty comfortable too.
It wasn't until we arrived (in the middle of the annual Chocolate Festival with the poor taxi driver edging the car through the throng in the old city) that I saw the plaque on the wall.
Yes, we are sleeping in one of Palladio's famous buildings for two nights.
The owner, Francesca, is an architect herself, and today she showed us around the important rooms still very much as they were in Palladio's day. She left us to wander through the rooms, soaking up the atmosphere and their symmetry. Yep, something one can not get from the internet. (Click on the photos we took above for bigger images).
There are four apartments to stay in here - click to see ours, Alvise's apartment.
Off to Venice tomorrow - can't wait!