About midway between Padova and Verona and 43 mi/70 km west of Venice, Vicenza, Italy, has much-celebrated and often duplicated architecture by Andrea Palladio—it was his hometown in the 16th century.

See the impressive Basilica in the Piazza dei Signori and other Palladian buildings along the Corso Palladio. Also visit La Rotonda, a Palladian villa admired by Goethe. He said that "the art of architecture [had] never reached such a magnificent standard before." It's worth half a day there to stroll the medieval streets and see the Italian and Flemish art in the Museo Civico.

About 15 mi/25 km north of Vicenza is inviting Marostica, an attractive walled medieval town with a black-and-white checkerboard-pattern town square (Piazza Castello). On the second weekend in September (in even years only), the town holds a living chess match: 550 citizens dress in splendid 15th-century costume and armor and become chess pieces on the black-and-white squares. Legend has it that the first such game was held by one of the town's noblemen to help determine which of two suitors should win his daughter's hand in marriage. Against the picture-perfect backdrop of the castle, the pageantry of this event makes it a winner.

Marostica is also famous for its sweet cherries—visit in May to feast on this delectable fruit.

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