Le Dimore del Conte: Genius of Palladio, gentility of a gracious residence


Academics and aficionados have long flocked to the Palazzo Porto to study and enjoy an unfinished work by Andrea Palladio, the 16th century architect considered among the most important in Western history. Palladio’s villas and palazzos still dot the city of Vicenza and Veneto region, continuing to provide inspiration and wonder to new generations.

Adjacent to Palazzo Porto is Palazzo Sesso, which not only welcomes lovers of art and architecture, but also guests and tourists in Vicenza. Today it is home to the Le Dimore del Conte serviced residence that offers eight tastefully appointed apartments for short and long-term stays.
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The serviced residence is located on Piazza Castello, near the start of Corso Andrea Palladio, just 300 meters from Vicenza’s Renaissance Basilica Palladiana.

It is a modern expression of a noble 15th century home whose original neighbor commissioned the legendary Palladio to build Palazzo Porto.

Now the site of Le Dimore del Conte, Palazzo Sesso is owned by Count Arcangelo Sesso Cianciulli, whose family is also historic. It can trace its roots back to the year 874 when its Longobard forebears first took possession of the area. They were the lords of Sandrigo outside the city of Vicenza for centuries.

“My family acquired the home at the end of the 19th century,” recalls Sesso Cianciulli. “My grandmother lived here until WWII, then my father and uncle converted it to apartments.”

Seven years ago he had the inspiration to transform the palazzo into modern, luxury accommodations for tourists and longer-term visitors to Vicenza. Ranging from 40 to 120 square meters in size, the apartments are outfitted with all the amenities of home, from full kitchens, wi-fi and cable TV to fine ultra-modern furniture mixed with a few antiques, artful interiors, coffee makers, books and luxury linens. Each has a large bathroom, shower and full-sized bed.

Services include daily cleaning and even a personal chef if needed.
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Palazzo Sesso and Palazzo Porto, an unfinished work by Andrea Palladio that continues to attract lovers of architecture today.

“Our mission it to provide an alternative to hotels by providing hospitality and ease to guests,” says Sesso Cianciulli. “They have more privacy and freedom along with all the comforts of a hotel.”

Located on Piazza Castello, near the start of Corso Andrea Palladio, the residence is just 300 meters from Vicenza’s Renaissance Basilica Palladiana at Piazza dei Signori and about same distance from the train station.

Inside the rooms are light and airy due to their large windows and modern interiors accented with antique flourishes. Architect Giovanni Vio, a specialist in heritage sites, oversaw the renovation.

In addition to his efforts in bringing luxury accommodation to Vicenza, Sesso Cianciulli’s professional work today also centers on his business as administrator of computer software firm Evolvex.

Vicenza is renowned as the city of Palladio (1508-1580), who started out as a mere stonemason and went on to become perhaps the most influential architect of all time. Walking around Vicenza, it is intriguing to study the evolution of his distinctive style. All around are the many palaces that he built for Vicenza’s wealthy citizens.

Guests at Le Dimore del Conte can admire Palladio’s architectural wonders starting from the monumental basilica he adapted to serve as the town hall. When you are in Vicenza you must see the Teatro Olimpico, Europe’s oldest surviving indoor theater. Palladio began working on the design in 1579, but he died the following year, so his pupil Vincenzo Scamozzi took over the project. The Teatro Olimpico’s scenery represents the Greek city of Thebes, including streets that are cleverly painted in perspective and rise at a steep angle to give the illusion of a great length.
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Its eight spacious apartments are light and airy due to their large windows and modern interiors.

Most famous of all Palladio’s works in Vicenza is La Rotonda, a villa with a beautiful dome that is considered the epitome of his architecture. La Rotonda has inspired many copies in cities around the world from London and St. Petersburg to New Delhi.

But Vicenza is more than a Palladio masterpiece as guests at Le Dimore del Conte discover in the hidden gem of a town.

The great gothic Santa Corona Church is worth a visit. It houses a thorn donated by Louis IX of France said to be from Christ’s crown of thorns. Shakespeare lovers can find it interesting to visit the tomb of Luigi da Porto, author of the novel Romeo and Giulietta on which Shakespeare based his most famous play.

Avid travelers like to visit Casa Pigafetta, a striking 15th-century home that was birthplace of Antonio Pigafetta who set sail around the world with Ferdinand Magellan.

Guests of Le Dimora del Conte are free to cook in their spacious, well equipped kitchen or choose to dine outside, choosing from a wealth of fine restaurants and bars in town. Vicentina cuisine is rich in specialties. You should not leave the city without trying the delicious baccalà alla vicentina, stockfish served on a bed of creamy polenta, or the succulent soppressa, the local salami, or asiago, a local cheese.