Visitors share Vicenza park with hundreds of rabbits
October 18, 2016
A walk in the park in Vicenza’s Parco Querini can be a little surreal.
Located in the heart of the city’s dense historic district, it has vast green meadows, thickets of trees, running trails and fitness stations, like many parks. It also has a classical temple and a long, graveled walkway bordered on both sides by statues, something more clearly Italianate and elegant.
And then there are the rabbits. They lounge on the grass, hop hither and yon, or stand stock still in the time-honored way of prey animals hoping you won’t see them. There are hundreds of them.
I first heard about the quirky park from some neighbors headed out on a weekend morning carrying a bag full of carrots. But it still came as a surprise. The park is quite large — about 30 acres — and the rabbits are everywhere.
The park was formerly the back garden of a wealthy residence and was opened to the public free of charge in the 1970s.
During a recent visit, the park was green and serene. Autumn in northern Italy lacks the fiery beauty of Vermont or upstate New York — there are no sugar maples. Still, it was quite soothing. A family picnicked. A couple kissed. A pair of women ran around the track.
My dog and I walked around. We went over to the temple, which is inaccessible, surrounded by a murky pond said to be inhabited by nutria and turtles. I tied the dog by his leash to a bench, took a bag of baby carrots out of my pocket and approached a solitary white rabbit. The rabbit let me get close enough to put a carrot in front of it but never made eye contact.
It’s unclear how long the rabbits have lived at the park, or how long they’ll remain. This spring, the local paper had a story saying they’d be removed because they were ill and needed treatment and sterilization. The park closed for a few days in July for a rabbit roundup.
But on an October day, they were everywhere, hanging out with the park’s chickens — yes, there are also chickens — in a sort of Easter scene.
The park is open all year long and in summer offers free classes in Zumba, bellydancing, yoga, tai chi and self-defense.
Parco Querini is located at Viale Ferdinando Rodolfi, 36100 Vicenza.
Open 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily through October; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in November and December.
There are pay parking lots nearby.
Restaurants and coffee bars in Vicenza’s old town are about a 10-minute walk away.