While traveling across the Venetian countryside, you might notice some beautiful ancient Venetian villas. They are on the Unesco World Heritage list, and belong to the glorious past of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Their history is closely linked to the crucial events that happened in the area and they are still an inestimable symbol of art and culture.
The knowledge and remarkable artistic skills of the most famous artists and artisans from past centuries are preserved in these Venetian villas.
Let’s discover what hides beyond their magnificent gates!
Discovering Venetian Villas
Venetian Villas: the history
Venetian villas are quite surprising places! Their look differs a lot from their surroundings since they are luxury country houses built in the middle of nowhere.
They are testament to the lifestyle of Venetian aristocrats who became so wealthy that they could afford to have a piece of heaven in the countryside. Thanks to the well-preserved buildings, you can discover their habits, lives and secrets. Venetian villas were built according to specific architectural standards: they are 5,000 and were all built between 1400 and 1800. The organisation in Venetian villas is similar to the one of South American fazendas in Isabel Allende’s novels: this socio-economic system has now disappeared, and common buildings have been built closer and closer to villas throughout the centuries. Sometimes modern streets even divide in two their parks and gardens to allow modern economic development: in certain areas you can admire the magnificent gate on the right side of the street while the villa stands on the left side.
Venetian Villas Today
Many villas are open to the public so it is possible to visit them: they are the result of great wealth due to successful sea trade and their construction on the mainland shows how they changed the Venetian landscape forever. Once, the fields were a series of little farms, but during the Serenissima little farms started to disappear and the era of villas and great landed estates began.
The best artists and architects, such as Palladio, could not rest: every rich Venetian family wanted the most luxurious villa. Nowadays, the villas’ past splendour is still visible in the architectonic structures themselves as well as in their parks, fountains, statues, majestic trees, labyrinths, frescoes, glass walls and sculptures decorating those elegant houses.
Since they are scattered all over the countryside, you may find very special villas outside the main touristic places: Villa Emo Capodilista and Villa dei Vescovi are two really interesting Venetian villas located in the Hills district of Padova.
Near Vicenza, a particular group of Venetian villas designed by Palladio, a world-famous architect, can be found. His neoclassical style inspired generations of architects. Some of the best examples of his work are Villa Godi Malinverni and Villa Angarano.
Another famous villa, La Malcontenta, is a Palladio masterpiece and is situated in Mira, close to Venice, while another villa, the fabulous Villa Contarini attributed to Palladio, stands in Piazzola sul Brenta.
Between Padova and Venice, there is a very specific area with an exceptionally high number of beautiful Venetian villas. The area is called Riviera del Brenta (Brenta Riverside) and one of its most popular attractions is Villa Pisani and its famous and funny labyrinth.