Son of miller Pietro della Gondola and of Marta "la zota" (limping Marta), Andrea was born in Padua in 1508.
In Padua, the town of the saint, he gained his first experiences as a stonecutter in the sculpture laboratory of Bartolomeo Cavazza da Sossano, who is said to have set particularly hard working conditions. In fact, in 1524, after one failed attempt, Palladio managed to run away to Vicenza. There he started working in the sculpture laboratory of Pedemuro San Biagio, owned by Giovanni di Giacomo da Porlezza and Girolamo Pittoni da Lumignano, who then were very famous sculptors in Vicenza.
Between 1535 and 1538 the encounter took place that would radically change his life: while working on the building site of the suburban villa in Cricolo, he met Giangiorgio Trissino, a poet and humanist who took him under his wing. He christened him Palladio and guided him through his cultural education, which was based mostly on studies of classical buildings, and took him to Rome several times.
There Andrea found himself for the first time face to face the architecture he had learnt to love, he could see the imperial monuments with his own eyes and study their materials, their building techniques, their spacial ratios. But the journeys with his patron also involved the meeting with the greats of his time: Michelangelo, Sebastiano Serlio, Giulio Romano, Bramante.
Around 1540 he started his own architecture business, with works like the Palazzo Civena in Ponte Furo (Vicenza) and the Villa Godi in Lonedo, and in 1549 an event happened which definitely consecrated him to fame: the reconstruction of the loggias of the Vicenza Basilica, which replaced the former ones from the 14th century. Palladio's project beat a definitely seasoned competition (famous names on the list were Serlio, Sansovino, Sanmicheli, Giulio Romano). Since then, the noblemen of Vicenza and Venice competed for Palladio's works.
Thus Palladio's most intense working period began, in which artworks of absolute beauty came to life: from the Palazzo Chiericati to the Villa Barbaro di Maser, from the Villa "Malcontenta" in Mira to the Venetian churches of the Redentore and of San Giorgio Maggiore to the well known Villa "Rotonda". Moreover, in 1570 Palladio published his treatise The Four Books of Architecture, the expression of his culture, his ideals and also his concrete experience. In the Seventies he worked in Venice as "proto" (overseer), as architectural consultant of the Serenissima. Between February and March 1580 the worked for the building of the Teatro Olimpico started, a building erected by request of the "Accademici Olimpici" (Andrea himself had been a co-founder of the society in 1556), to perform classic tragedies. However, before the work could be completed, Palladio passed away on 19th August 1580.