Venetian Villas – Tour of Brenta Riviera5 August 2019

Venetian Villas - Tour of Brenta Riviera

The Riviera del Brenta

The Riviera del Brenta is a waterway that connects Venice to the mainland (Padua), along a route that rejoins the ancient splendor of the lagoon city and its beautiful villas that today seem like noble palaces but that were born at the beginning as dwellings of countryside.
The Villas, commissioned starting from 1345 by nobles who wanted an elegant but equally comfortable place to manage their possessions, is estimated to be about 2000 on the whole territory of the Republic of Venice. The Venetians climbed on their boats, called Burchielli, at the dock of their city palace, crossed the lagoon, reached the point where the Brenta canal flows and from here, through locks, which regulated the water level, and horses that dragged the boat arrived at their villas. It was a long journey – up to 8/10 hours – but very convenient. Casanova also writes of it in his memoirs, it seems these were a lot of fun trips, so nobody was in a hurry to get there.

Even today, not with rowing boats of course, it is possible to travel that water by taking short cruises with boats from 50 to 120 seats or follow the route by land independently. Today river navigation on the Riviera del Brenta is an important economic asset transporting about sixty thousand people a year visiting the Villas and using restaurants and hotel services. 36 km of unique scenic beauty, a framework able to blend art and culture, nature and history.

The Venetian Villas – the Venetian splendor that still lives

The villas open to the public today are not many, nevertheless a trip along the coast allows you to admire many. The patrician residences, clad in immortal elegance, run by dozens especially in the area of ​​Stra, Dolo and Mira. Of these you can visit: Villa Foscarini Rossi, the first that you meet on the road after the center of Stra that owes part of the project to Andrea Palladio; Villa Pisani, the most imposing, born as place of the Doge, studded with frescoes (including one by Tiepolo) and with the famous boxwood labyrinth inside the vast garden; Villa Widmann in Mira; finally, near Fusina, Villa Foscari called La Malcontenta, built on a project by Palladio.
A visit, even if only outside, also deserves La Barbariga, on the other bank near Dolo, the sixteenth-century Villa Querini Stampalia in Mira and Villa Gradenigo in Oriago. The most fascinating excursion is probably the one along the river, from Padua to Venice or vice versa.

Villa Foscarini Rossi built in the late 16th century by the Foscarini family and designed by architect Scamozzi, although rumors at the time claimed that the original design was from Palladio. The central hall echoes of Pompeian atmospheres with frescoes and mythological scenes, while the park, also very changed as the building, makes one perceive the sweet life of those who lived in those spaces but now the green leads to a wing where it is located the Museum of Footwear.

Villa Pisani also known as the National one, is certainly one of the most famous examples of Venetian Villa of the Brenta Riviera; it is located in Stra, in the province of Venice, and occupies an entire loop of the Brenta canal, it covers an area of ​​11 hectares and an outer perimeter of about 1,500 meters. It was built starting from 1721 on a project by Gerolamo Frigimelica and Francesco Maria Preti for the noble Venetian family of Pisani di Santo Stefano. Inside you can see works by Giambattista Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista Crosato, Giuseppe Zais, Jacopo Guarana, Carlo Bevilaqua, Francesco Simonini, Jacopo Amigoni and Andrea Urbani.
The park of Villa Pisani has been awarded the prize “The most beautiful Park in Italy 2008”. Walking through the park it is easy to be enchanted by the spectacular views, the original architecture, the greenhouses and the famous labyrinth among the largest in Europe. The structure of the park recalls the French models applied by André Le Nôtre to the palace of Versailles and intersects with the Venetian tradition of the walled garden. The park of Villa Pisani has been completely restored and today you can admire a rich botanical collection.

Villa Seriman, Foscari Widmann-Rezzonico is located in the municipality of Mira (Venice). Today this spectacular Venetian Villa is owned by the Province of Venice and is used as a venue for exhibitions and cultural and social events. The villa includes the manor house with the garden and the adjacent courtyard, the barchessa, the church and the vast park to the north with the greenhouse, enriched by 18th-century statues, numerous tree species and a pond.

Villa Foscari, called La Malcontenta, is the only Villa of Palladio along the Riviera del Brenta designed in 1554. Palladio designed a building with a central plan on three floors, perfectly symmetrical, a masterpiece of style and ingenuity for perspective tricks and references to the classicism. Preserved in its architecture, it is reflected in the Brenta in Malcontenta, near Mira. In 1994 it was marked as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Villa is still without electric lighting by choice of owners.