As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, why don’t you snuggle up on the sofa and make yourself a nice cup of steaming hot tea? We’d like to tell you the story of one of the many wonders of the Veneto region.
Get ready to go on a journey from the comfort of your own home!
Discover the Veneto Villas and their masterpieces
There are almost 4,000 historic villas in Veneto. For centuries, they were places of study, work, patronage and quintessential Venetian savoir vivre. They offer the perfect blend of the area’s rural marvels and the vibrant majesty of stately Venetian buildings.
But what is the story behind them?
“Coltivar el mar e lassar star la tera” – Cultivate the sea and forget about the dry land
Until 1345, Venice was a Maritime Republic and its development was based on seagoing trade. Investments in agriculture were avoided due to concerns that they would slow down the rate of growth in the city’s economy. Until that time, inland business activities of all kinds were actually forbidden by the Great Council of the Republic of Venice.
After approximately half of the people of Venice were killed by the plague in the 14th century, the population of the city quickly increased again thanks to the influx of people from inland areas, which in turn led to the expansion and development of manufacturing activities. As business flourished, merchants and the nobles of both Venice and the inland areas were keen to spend their growing riches on the construction of homes that reflected and underlined their social status, while also serving a practical purpose.
The nobles lived fashionable, luxurious lives in the city. At certain times of the year, it was in their interest to keep a close eye on the agricultural work in the countryside in order to make sure that everything went smoothly and the money kept coming in, but they did not want to miss out on any of the comfort and worldly pleasures to which they were accustomed.
A sinistra Ph.credit: https://it.latuaitalia.ru/art/le-ville-palladiane/ – A destra Ph. credit: http://www.villacontarini.eu/galleria-immagini/
Changing styles over the centuries
The first villas were spacious Gothic constructions that were often surrounded by land that was yet to be drained and reclaimed. Over the following two centuries, the architecture was increasingly influenced by the Renaissance style and then came the well-known “Palladian” era, during which the most famous villas of the 17th century were built.
What never changed
While the styles of the villas might have changed over time, there were two factors that always remained constant: water and greenery.
They say that “you can take a Venetian away from water but you can’t take water away from a Venetian” and indeed the majority of the Veneto Villas were built just a short distance from a navigable waterway so that the owners could travel to them easily from their homes lining the Grand Canal. For example, take the Villas on the Brenta river.
The second thing that all of the villas have in common is that they are surrounded by vast green expanses of countryside. The wealthy owners couldn’t enjoy the wonders of nature in the city, so they adorned their second homes with magnificent gardens featuring mazes and all kinds of plants, flowers and animals.
Veneto Villas: Our recommendations
We’ve picked out a few of the numerous Veneto Villas that we think are some of the most spectacular in the whole of the Veneto region. They’re great places for unique day trips and they provide you with a wonderful opportunity to discover the countless qualities of the areas around them and their many treasures.
VILLA PISANI in Stra
Villa Pisani is probably one of the best known Veneto Villas. Its stand-out features include its stunning garden, its stables, a maze with a tower in the middle, and above all a ballroom with majestic frescoes by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo on the two-storey ceiling. Now home to a national museum, it contains 168 rooms and spans 15,000 m². It takes around half a day to look around it all and it’s easy to get there from the motorway. Simply take the Mirano/Dolo exit and follow the signs. It takes about five minutes to walk to the villa from the centre of Stra.
- TUESDAY and THURSDAY: 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
- WEDNESDAY and FRIDAY: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
- SATURDAY and SUNDAY: 8:45 am – 1:30 pm // 2:15 pm – 7:00 pm
Tickets: Admission to the villa + grounds: €7.50 – Concessions: €2.00 – Grounds only: €4.50 – Free on the first Sunday of every month.
Ph. credit: https://www.villapisani.beniculturali.it/
VILLA EMO in Fanzolo di Vedelago
Designed by Palladio, this building caters to both social and practical needs: alongside the compact, refined central unit are wings for agricultural use. The rooms inside are adorned with frescoes by Giovanni Battista Zelotti depicting mythological scenes and lighting is provided by magnificent Murano glass chandeliers. Take a guided tour and discover all of the villa’s secrets. To get there: exit the motorway at Treviso and follow the signs for Castelfranco Veneto and then Fanzolo.
- 10:00 am – 5:30 pm (Last admission at 5:00 pm) – Closed on Tuesdays
Tickets: Admission: €10.00 – Over-65s: €7.00 – Family ticket (2 adults + up to 3 children aged 11-25): €25.00 – Children aged 10 and under: free.
Ph. credit: Corriere del Veneto
VILLA LA ROTONDA in Vicenza
This building has an unmistakable large dome on top that was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and is the reason why it’s known as “La Rotonda” (meaning “The Rotunda”). It’s another iconic work by Palladio and it inspired numerous other projects, including the design of the White House in Washington. This architectural masterpiece doesn’t have any foundations but it supports itself thanks to a network of arches and cross vaults. The layout of the columns follows the Vitruvian rules of proportion. Palladio showed great attention to detail in every aspect of the villa, including its position. Its corners face the four points of the compass, thus ensuring that the sun shines on the various façades and creates a delightful natural lighting effect throughout the building. Villa La Rotonda has been part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. It is just a few kilometres from Vicenza. The best way to get there is to exit the motorway at “Vicenza Est” and then follow the signs for Riviera Berica.
- 10:00 am – 12:00 pm // 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm – Friday, Saturday and Sunday
To book private visits during the week and tours with a look inside the villa, email email@example.com
Tickets: Admission: €10.00 – Concessions: €5.00
Ph. credit: https://www.venetoinside.com/
VILLA CONTARINI in Piazzola sul Brenta
Villa Contarini is one of the most luxurious stately homes in Veneto. In terms of its size and features, it’s comparable to a royal palace. It has more than 40 hectares of grounds extending behind it and the interior is bursting with frescoes and stucco work. There are many breathtaking rooms inside and one that you definitely shouldn’t miss is the Music Room (also known as the Upside-down Guitar Room). Marco Contarini had it built to host superior music performances for his guests. Due to its distinctive shape and structure, it has an incredible effect reminiscent of a sound box. It’s easy to get to the villa on the motorway. Simply take the “Padova” (Padua) exit and follow the signs.
- Summer (01/03 – 31/10) 9:00 am – 7:00 pm (last admission at 6:00 pm) – Closed on Wednesdays
- Winter (01/11 – 28/02) 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (last admission at 3:00 pm) – Closed on Wednesdays
Tickets: Adults: €10.00 – Concessions: €5.00 – Family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children aged 14 or under): €20.00
Ph. credit: http://www.villacontarini.eu/galleria-immagini/
To find out about other fantastic places to visit in Veneto, read also here.