At the top of the amphitheatre’s arc and just to the left of the bus stop across the street you can easily locate the Porton del Luzo, one of the old city gates. Walk through it, which puts you on Contrada San Silvestro. Don’t despair: you are still less than ten minutes into your walk. Along the way check out a splendid array of palaces facing the cobbled streets. This is the Vicenza only the locals see. The road makes a gentle curve to the right- walk to its end.
Next comes the most perilous part of your journey. You will need to cross Viale Risorgimento Nazionale, a modern highway obstacle course designed to terrify even the bravest of travelers. You are advised to religiously and patiently follow the crosswalks and pedestrian signals, or take your life in your own hands. Your goal here is to get across to the Via di Avogardo di Casanova, which is the right hand street on the other side, leading up the hill. Directly in front of you a short way up the hill you can see the beginning of the porticos which face the Viale X Giugno. Dating from 1746, designed by the architect F. Mutti, the 700 meter climb traverses150 arches which lead to the top in two long and linear stretches. As the light and season changes the porticos assume different impressions, dramatically shadowed in late afternoon, ethereal in the Vicentini mist, ghostly at dawn or twilight, diffuse on autumn days, romantic in the snow. If it’s warm and temperate, watch out for cyclists huffing and puffing on their way to the top, careening at breakneck speed, jumping steps as they descend.
Look closely and near the top you may catch sight of a small sign announcing the entrance to Albergo San Raffaele, a 100-year old 2-star hotel which overlooks the old city. Inexplicably, you can’t stop in for a coffee since the facilities are reserved for guests. But the hotel has a good view and it is worth it to wander in, take a breather and have a look, albeit a brief one. This also means you’ve reached the top of the climb and the Holy Mary Sanctuary, constructed in 1595. Walk out to the Piazzale della Victoria for a panoramic angle on greater Vicenza and the low Dolomites off to the northwest. You’ll easily pick out the verdigris dome of the Basilica where your walk began, over the red roofs of the medieval city.
A leisurely stroll to the top of Monte Berico takes no more than 25 minutes by this route, but the walk back to the city center can be done in a quarter of an hour. Depending on the season and the time of sunset you’ll be able to fit in the typical cocktail of a Spritz Aperol before dinner at one of the outdoor cafes in the Piazza Signori. Complimenti: you’ve done it like a true Vicentini!