Palladio’s Palazzo Della Ragione
The Classical Roman Renaissance style of the first two decades of the 16th century expired in Rome after the sack, but it flourished with regional and Mannerist variations elsewhere in Italy, such as in the city of Venice. The last of the great Humanist architects, Andrea Palladio, came from that region1. To understand the heart of Palladio's world, one must start in Vicenza. Palladio’s first major commission was here for a public building, the Palazzo Della Ragione, or town hall of Vicenza, better known as the Basilica. It was his success in winning the competition to reconstruct the exterior of the Basilica that established his fame outside Vicenza as well as consolidating his reputation within it2. With its vote from the council, Vicenza would now make a radical break with the past and set in motion the transformation of the city center under the hands of its chosen architect. With Palladio’s solution to wrap the old building in a new façade that consisted of a two-story loggia with open arches and Doric columns on the first floor and Ionic on the second, it would convert this ordinary building to monumental grandeur3.
To understand fully the design and thought of Pallazo Della Ragione, one must investigate the past of Palladio and the building itself. Palladio was born as Andrea di Pietro della Gondola in 1508. Andrea was later named Palladio, an allusion to the Greek goddess of wisdom, when apprenticing for Gian Giorgio Trissino, a Vicenzan nobleman and intellectual, in the mid 1530’s 4. His name proved to be true, because of his wisdom and talents, he was first recognized by Trissino who would then mold him to the architect we know today. Trissino stimulated Palladio to appreciate the arts, sciences and Classical literature and granted him the opportunity to study Ancient architecture in Rome5. There he explored ruins,