The Turtles of Vicenza at Parco Querini
Turtles swim in a pond surrounding a classical temple in this lush park in Vicenza.
Parco Querini, the “green lung” of Vicenza, is well-loved by the people of the town. Many come here daily for sports, walks or just relaxation. Toward the eastern part of the park there is a pond with an island. It can’t be missed because on a small hill of the island sits a Greek-style temple built in 1820. In the pond surrounding the island lives a large population of turtles. One can spend a long time watching them swimming or bathing in the sun. Nobody knows how they got here (though they are an invasive species and likely to have been former pets that were released), but they must have been there for a long time, as you can see them in all ages and sizes.
The first mention of the park dates back to the 17th century when it was a silk plantation with mulberry trees. In the 19th century, it was a vineyard. The area of the park used to be private property with greenhouses, a church, and other buildings. The ruins of the greenhouses from the 19th century and the ruins of a much older church can still be found east, right beside the pond. The owners of the land planned to transform the park into a large municipal building project. At that time the place was in a state of disrepair, overgrown by plants and weeds, the statues broken and strewn around and the temple almost a ruin.
To save the green area in the middle of the old town of Vicenza the government expropriated the owner in 1969. Then the place was transformed into a park, the temple renovated, and the statues put back in their place. The park was opened to the public in 1971. Over time, it seems to have become a refuge for many other animals as well. Among others, there is a large population of former domestic chickens, bunnies and even coypu (a large and invasive aquatic South American rodent).
There are more things to see in the park. On the eastern side it is closed by the old Venetian Wall. Close to the Rodolfi entrance, there is a science park to understand physical phenomena, such as the reflection of light, vibrations, the frequency of sounds, and optical illusions. From the pond towards the southwest leads an alley with lots of statues.
Know Before You Go
Entrance to the park is free.
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