Criptoportico Romano Vicenza


Useful Information

photography
Criptoportico Romano, Vicenza, Italy. Public Domain.
Location: Piazza del Duomo, 6, 36100 Vicenza VI.
(45.545586, 11.544201)
Open: All year 2nd Sun 10-12.
[2022]
Fee: free.
[2022]
Classification: SubterraneaSubterranea Museum
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:
Guided tours: self guided, D=20 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: G. Tosi (1975): Osservazioni sul criptoportico di Vicenza, in Venetia, Studi miscellanei di archeologia delle Venezie, III, Padova 1975, pp. 143-156.
Address: Criptoportico Romano, Piazza del Duomo, 6, 36100 Vicenza VI, Tel: +39-0444-226400.
Reservations: C.T.G. – Gruppo Animatori Culturali, Tel: +39-0444-226626.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1st century Criptoportico built.
1954 discovered during the works for the construction of the rectory of the cathedral of Vicenza and excavated by the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of the Veneto.
1957 opened to the public.

Description

The Criptoportico Romano is located in the center of the city, at the Piazza del Duomo. The passages are entered form the piazza down a staircase. This was the foundation of a domus in the south-western part of the “municipium”, the Roman city 2,000 years ago. The Roman cryptoporticus from the 1st century is a large, covered corridor with three sections forming a huge U. The northeastern section is missing, its open on this side. At both corners a short side passage branches off, opposite the two lateral passages.

The central branch is 29,5 m long and the two lateral branches 27 m each. The passages are 3 m wide and 2,85 m high. There are 27 little splayed windows opening on the garden through which light and air enters the passages. The walls were originally covered with “marmorino” plaster, which is almost completely gone. The floor was originally made of small hexagonal terracotta cubes. It was renovated two times, first with mosaic and then with rectangular terracotta slabs. This actually implies frequent use of the corridors, probably because it was cool in summer and warmer than outside during winter, and they probably used it as extra living space. But there is no archaeologival evidence how it was actually used.

Cryptoporticos are rather rare, and this is actually the only one in northern Italy. Most cryptoporticos were made for the forum, the marketplace, of a city, but this was the foundation of a domus in the south-western part of the “municipium”, the Roman city 2,000 years ago. The domus was later replaced by other buildings, but its estimated to have been where today is the palace “palazzo Roma”, the parsonage, and a part of the garden of the Bishopry. It was actually quite large. The square grid of the Roman city plan had blocks of 80 m per side, and this domus took almost half of one of them. The cryptoportico supported the porch around the peristyle (garden). It was accessed through a two-flighted stair with a rather narrow entrance, which makes any use for storage quite unlikely.

It was completely forgotten until it was rediscovered in 1954. It was immediately excavated by the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of the Veneto.

Vicenza is located in the central-western plain of Veneto at an average altitude of about 40 m asl. It is surrounded to the south by the Berici hills and to the west-northwest by the Lessini mountains.