Vicenza in Italy is known as the city of Palladian wonders, but also as Italy’s capital of gold. Currently, the city boasts more than a thousand businesses operating in the gold sector. Every year Vicenza also hosts the Vicenzaoro fair, an international leading gold exhibition.
Vicenza’s goldsmithing tradition draws a path all to be discovered, starting from the ancient origins of craftsmanship and arriving at the great goldsmith companies that today export their models and creations all over the world.
A bit of history about Vicenza Goldsmithing
Vicenza goldsmithing tradition has roots dating back to ancient times, as witnessed by the extraordinarily beautiful gold jewelry dating back to the Paleovenetian era, some seven centuries before Christ. An important step forward in the history of goldsmithing in Vicenza is dated to 1339 when the Fraglia degli Orefici, or Goldsmiths’ Guild, were registered in the municipal charter document. This guild, composed of 150 artisans, was allowed to elect a member of the council of elders and played an active role in the economic and political life of Vicenza. In the past, goldsmiths’ workshops were concentrated mainly in the city’s historical center, where the art of goldsmithing reached its peak in the Renaissance, thanks to the mastery of Valerio Belli, known for his collaboration with Michelangelo.
Goldsmith production grew steadily, led by numerous small businesses in the late 19th century, which quickly conquered international markets thanks to innovative technologies, such as precision machinery or the introduction of the first electric motors. The success of Vicenza businesses was not long in coming, as evidenced by the success of the first Vicenza Trade Fair in 1908. Vicenza’s goldsmith enterprises, which process more than half of all gold imported into Italy, ensure high quality and thriving production. Tradition, quality and innovation are the hallmarks of Vicenza goldsmithing, which remains a national and international benchmark in the industry.
Some must-see Sights on Vicenza Gold Craftsmanship
1- The Jewelry Museum is the ideal starting point for exploring Vicenza goldsmithing tradition. This permanent museum space, located inside the Basilica Palladiana, is the first museum in Italy and one of the few in the world dedicated exclusively to jewelry. With a scientific and educational itinerary on two levels, the museum offers a room dedicated to temporary exhibitions on the first floor and nine exhibition rooms on the upper floor curated by international experts.
2- The Santa Corona Archaeological and Natural History Museum is another important stop on your journey to discover Vicenza’s goldsmith art. Here visitors can admire the earliest examples of this ancient art, dating back to the Paleovenetian period, when the ancient Venetians began to produce objects such as rectangular plates, single or tied bracelets, small wheels and other beautifully crafted objects.
3- The Civic Museum of Palazzo Chiericati, on the other hand, preserves evidence of the Lombard presence in the Vicenza area, such as funerary objects, anthropological remains like tongue buckles, belt plates, buckles for shoes and bags, weapons, glass paste beads, combs, jewelry and other objects. These artifacts provide an important record of Vicenza’s Venetian gold craftsmanship.
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