Dear fellow travellers,
Today I want to guide you through the discovery of one of the most beautiful attractions in Veneto—its mansions. Among the many villas scattered around the region, Andrea Palladio’s creations are the most famous.
Andrea Palladio is one of the crucial architects in history; his work revolutionised architecture since the first half of the sixteenth century. This is the reason why his mansions raise such an interest and are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. One of the essential ideas Palladio developed was the study of the right proportions to create buildings in complete harmony. The second innovation Palladio introduced is the use of typical elements of religious architecture, such as columns and decorations, in residential buildings. The frescoes inside Palladio’s villas are the work of some of the most renowned painters of the time—among them Paolo Veronese and Giovanni Battista Zelotti. Without their talent, those buildings wouldn’t be the same. As a result, these grand villas are as harmonious and essential on the outside as rich and refined inside. It’s no surprise that over the centuries many architects based their projects on Palladio’s work. For example, the White House in Washington D.C., probably the most famous house in the world, was based on the Palladian villa “La Rotonda” in Vicenza.
Where are they?
Andrea Palladio didn’t create mansions for the Venetian nobility only, but he also designed buildings for the community. That’s why the main cities, especially Vicenza, are rich in Palladio’s buildings—for instance, the Basilica Palladiana. There are thirty Palladio’s Villas in Veneto. Besides a few rare exceptions, they are quite far from each other, scattered between Vicenza, Treviso, Venice and Padua. In the map below and the following list, I only indicate the most important buildings. There are also other villas that, even if they weren’t created by the famous architect, hold great interest.
To simplify your visit, you can group the villas in three groups, based on their location:
- Villas north of VicenzaVillas
- Southern of Padua
- Villas between Padua and Venice
Villas North of Vicenza
The most important mansions between Vicenza and the northern part of its province are seven:
- Villa Almerigo Capra “La Rotonda” and Villa Valmarana “ai Nani” just outside the centre of Vicenza
- Villa Caldogno in Caldogno
- Villa Godi Malinverni and Villa Piovene in Lugo di Vicenza
- Villa di Maser in Maser
- Villa Emo in Fanzolo.
Among these Villas, only Villa Valmarana ai Nani isn’t based on a project by Andrea Palladio.
Villas South of Padua
In this area there are five mansions:
- Villa dei Vescovi in Luvigliano
- Castello del Catajo in Battaglia Terme
- Villa Vigna Contarena in Este
- Villa Poana in Poiana Maggiore
- Villa Badoer in Fratta Pollesine
Among these mansions, the Palladian ones are Villa Pojana and Villa Badoer.
Villas between Padua and Venice
In this territory you can find four mansions:
- Villa Pisani and Villa Foscarini Rossi in Stra
- Villa Widman in Mira
- Villa Foscari “La Malcontenta” in Malcontenta
The only palladian one is Villa Foscari “La Malcontenta”
Where and when to go
Even if Veneto has one of the most efficient public transportation service in Italy, since many of these mansions are outside the main towns, the only way to visit them is by car. The best moment to go and discover the Venetian villas is between April and October. Besides the climate, I’d recommend avoiding Winter because the opening times are reduced. Unfortunately, most mansions aren’t part of a unified tourist circuit. Opening times vary based on the needs of the owners or the foundations that manage the properties. That’s why it’s crucial to verify the opening times of each villa on its website before planning your visit. After checking all the sites, I can tell you that the worse days to plan a visit are Mondays and Fridays, while the best days are Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The best way to close this post is giving you some final information. The most important piece of advice I can give you is don’t organise a tour in Veneto just to visit the Palladian villas. The style of architecture and decorations is quite similar. After visiting five of them, the sights may start to seem quite repetitive, with the risk of losing interest in the following villas. The best thing to do is choosing on one of the three groups of mansions I listed above and add the tour of some other parts of the area. Don’t underestimate the cost. The admission tickets to the villas are all about 10 euros per person. However they are giving discounts for FAI or Touring Club partners, or if you are visiting mansions managed by the same foundation, such as Villa Emo and Villa Maser. In our next post, we’ll leave for Vicenza where we are going to visit some of Andrea Palladio’s buildings.
See you for the next post!