If you are in Venice, it’s worth escaping the crowds one day and taking a trip to Vicenza – an easy 60 minutes on the train. The town is magnificent, not least because it’s a World Heritage Site, thanks to the 16th century architect Andrea Palladio, whose Basilica Palladiana dominates the grand main square and whose villas peep out among the distant Cyprus trees. More amazing still is his Teatro Olimpico, a breathtaking theatre and one of only three surviving Renaissance theatres in the world.
But enough of culture, you want to know where to eat. Vicenza is a prosperous town with some elegant shops and good looking bistros. You can’t go wrong at Il Ceppo, a posh deli packed full of oils and vinegars, salamis and pastas and hot and cold dishes to take away. But consider too the marvellously cheapo self-service Righetti, in Piazza Duomo.
It’s simple, unfussy and always buzzing with a welcome as warm as toast. A waiter explains the deal: bag a table, stake your place with knife, fork and paper table mat, study the menu chalked up while you queue at the self service counter, collect your food and a jug of beer or wine, both on tap and pay when you leave, though it’s a mystery how they know what you’ve had.
We began with beef carpaccio, rocket and lemon, followed by pasta, one with tomato another with duck ragu. We dipped out of puddings which were creme caramel, semi freddo and something chocolatey.
In the evenings they light the fire and cook steak and fish on the flame. In summer there are tables outside. It’s cheap, it’s simple, it’s tasty and filling. Two courses, half a litre of wine, coffee and change from a 20 euro note. Brilliant