Being the focus of Italy’s “Silicon Valley” and a major producer of steel, textiles, gold and jewellery, VICENZA is one of Italy’s main wealth-generators, even if the economic malaise that has afflicted Italy in recent years has had a visible impact here. In 1404 Vicenza was absorbed by Venice, and the city’s numerous Gothic palaces reflect its status as a Venetian satellite. But in the latter half of the sixteenth century the city was transformed by the work of an architect who owed nothing to Venice and was to influence every succeeding generation; Andrea di Pietro, alias Palladio. Within the girdle of industrial estates and factories, a lot of the centro storico looks much as it did when the Palladio’s buildings were constructed. This historic core is compact enough to be explored in a day, but the city and its environs really require a short stay to do them justice.