Europe’s largest producer of textiles and the focus of Italy’s “Silicon Valley”, VICENZA is a very sleek city, where it can seem that every second car is a BMW. Prosperity hasn’t ruined the look of the city though, and the centre, still partly enclosed by medieval walls, today looks much as it did at the close of the eighteenth century. 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. The 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.