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Vicenza's old town is at its prettiest over the winter holidays. The Piazza dei Signori is aglow with lights.
Vicenza's old town is at its prettiest over the winter holidays. The Piazza dei Signori is aglow with lights. ()
Vicenza's old town is at its prettiest over the winter holidays. The Piazza dei Signori is aglow with lights.
Vicenza's old town is at its prettiest over the winter holidays. The Piazza dei Signori is aglow with lights. ()
Vicenza has its share of Christmas markets - both before and after Christmas - that sell clothes, furs and antique silver.
Vicenza has its share of Christmas markets - both before and after Christmas - that sell clothes, furs and antique silver. ()
Vicenza's pedestrian friendly old town is lit with lights and shoppers throughout the winter holidays.
Vicenza's pedestrian friendly old town is lit with lights and shoppers throughout the winter holidays. ()
A Christmas tree in the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza's old town is a popular backdrop for selfies.
A Christmas tree in the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza's old town is a popular backdrop for selfies. ()
An ice skating rink in Vicenza's old town next to the Piazza dei Signori lets kids work off their Christmas cookies. The rink is open through January.
An ice skating rink in Vicenza's old town next to the Piazza dei Signori lets kids work off their Christmas cookies. The rink is open through January. ()
Vicenza's downtown ice skating rink is fun for skaters as well as observers who appreciate physical comedy.
Vicenza's downtown ice skating rink is fun for skaters as well as observers who appreciate physical comedy. ()
Impervious to cold, able to repeatedly spring up unharmed from hard falls, children skate with glee on Vicenza's downtown ice skating rink.
Impervious to cold, able to repeatedly spring up unharmed from hard falls, children skate with glee on Vicenza's downtown ice skating rink. ()

Ice is slippery; skates are thin blades. That people fall down is to be expected.

And so it goes at the skating rink adjacent to Vicenza’s main plaza, the Piazza dei Signori, that opens in December as part of the city’s winter holiday fun.

What surprises is how much fun it is to watch. I skated on ponds all winter in my youth in upstate New York, but when I laced up some rental skates years later, I immediately pulled a muscle in my groin, fell backwards and hit my head on the ice. That was it for me.

But standing rinkside on a recent visit watching small children skate was great for anyone who appreciates physical comedy.

The contortions as they tried to maintain their balance, the pratfalls as they lost it — the slapstick — made me laugh out loud. It was like watching a bunch of little Inspector Clouseaus, Mr. Beans or Nutty Professors.

It was important to the comedy, obviously, that they sprang right back up unharmed and undaunted. Fractures, dislocations, sprains and bruises — the most common ice skating injuries, most common in adults — aren’t the least bit funny.

The skating rink is one of the charms of the Christmas season in Vicenza’s beautiful old town, already resplendent with Palladian architecture. The city strings white lights throughout the plazas and cobbled streets and decorates a big Christmas tree in the Piazza dei Signori. Vendors set up shop throughout the center both before and after Christmas, offering jewelry, furs, antique silver and other treasures.

montgomery.nancy@stripes.com Twitter: @montgomerynance

DIRECTIONS: Address: Piazza delle Biade, Vicenza, Italy 36100

TIMES: 10 a.m. to midnight every day; 3 to midnight Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31.

Starting Jan. 7 through Jan. 26: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays

COSTS: Ice skating lessons: 15 euros

Cost for two hours: 4 euros for children under 12; 6 euros for 12 and older. Skate rental is 2 euros. Plastic bears and penguins to hold onto for stability are 2 euros for 20 minutes.

INFORMATION: Phone: (+39) 0444 221464 Online: comune.vicenza.it/ vicenza/eventi/evento.php/238515

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