How to visit the Venetian Villas?
Here are some tips on how to visit the Venetian Villas, when is the best time to do so, which villas can be visited in a weekend or how to organize the tour of the Venetian villas in stages.
Villa Solatia resort in Caldogno in the province of Vicenza will be our starting point. After all, what could be better than organizing a visit to the Venetian Villas by staying in a Palladian villa, with a past that tells the story of the Venetian Renaissance and Palladianism?
Today Villa Solatia has almost completely returned to its original exterior while inside it offers 15 guest suites, furnished with themes related to the history and hospitality philosophy of the hosts.
Are you ready to start the tour of the Venetian villas?
Let's start by saying that there are more than 4,000 Venetian Villas, built between 1400 and 1700, at the time of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, in Veneto and Friuli.
They are found in almost everything that has been the hinterland of the Serenissima, from Lake Garda to Friuli.
But why were they built?
Already in Roman times there was the desire of the wealthy class to have a residence in the countryside and to be able to stay in wonderful homes away from urban agglomerations.
A fashion that, after being set aside in the medieval period, had a fervent supporter in Francesco Petrarca who thought that life in the countryside could give man that inner tranquility that has always been coveted.
He was the first to decide to build a villa in Arquà Petrarca, not far from Padua, thus becoming a precursor of life in the countryside.
From the mid-1400s the noble patrician families of the Republic of Venice began to build the first "villa factories", driven by the new economic and commercial impulses of the Serenissima.
The discovery of the Americas had taken away from Venice, which until then had controlled trade by sea for over two centuries, the dominance of the main trade routes between Asia and Europe, which had moved from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean.
All the nations such as Spain, England, France, the Netherlands and Portugal that previously turned to her for the purchase of products from the East, now turned their gaze elsewhere and bought from other precious metals, fine manufactures and spices, decreeing thus a huge drop in revenue for the Venetian coffers.
The Venetians were therefore forced to find new economic outlets in the hinterland, which until then had remained little used.
These new social, economic and political strategies led the government of the Republic to focus on agricultural areas and thus a major plan of hydraulic reform and reclamation of all that rural environment that had been swampy and unhealthy was undertaken.
They then returned to investing in agriculture and focused on the construction of new buildings in the surrounding countryside, which did not have surrounding walls and which were elegant and harmonious: thus the Venetian villas and the so-called "civilization in the villa" were born.
The Villas therefore became a space for agricultural production, a point where to do business and also a place for recreation and intellectual meeting in contact with nature.
When visit the Venetian Villas
Considering the vocation with which the Venetian Villas were born, there are more favorable seasons to fully enjoy the culture and beauty expressed by the architecture and their gardens but also to complete the experience with tastings in the cellar and / or tastings of local excellence or finally to enrich the visits with excursions to nearby villages such as Bassano, Marostica, Thiene, Asolo, Cittadella or Castelfranco Veneto and others.
Few can be visited all year round, the months in which it is possible to enter and be able to admire both the interiors with the frescoes and the splendid gardens, with ponds and centuries-old trees are those in spring and summer, until October and November.
Often the Venetian Villas are confused with the Palladian ones but, as we said before, the Venetian ones are almost 4000 and, even if Palladio was an indefatigable architect and the last ones in the '700 and Palladio was born a century later and died in 1580!
The truth is that Andrea Palladio designed a specific type of Venetian Villa, called Palladiana.
As we said, not all Venetian Villas are open and can be visited and many of them are open only at certain times of the year. Although each Villa has its own internal organization, all are usually usable on weekends and some even on fixed days during the week both in the morning and in the afternoon at a time that generally goes from 9.30 | 10 to 12 | 12.30 and from 14 | 15 to 17 | 18.
Many of these villas host exhibitions, conferences, theatrical and musical performances but also private events such as parties and weddings.
Guided tours are provided everywhere and extraordinary openings are organized for groups by reservation only.
Venetian Villas in a weekend
Since the Villas are located in all the Venetian provinces up to Friuli, it is advisable to organize the tour by inserting 2 maximum 3 Villas in a day, so it is preferable to organize the visits in stages, focusing on visits by province.
The combinations are many and the itineraries are very versatile and can be customized according to your wishes and the time available. If you think of starting from Villa Solatia to immerse yourself in a tour of the Palladian Villas between Vicenza and its province, we can offer you some routes that will make you discover real treasures of architectural beauty.
Palladian Villas Tour: the first villas of Andrea Palladio
Un itinerario assolutamente da contemplare prevede la visita a quelle Ville che meglio riproducono l’evoluzione dell’opera del Palladio, dalle sue origini fino a quella che secondo l’opinione dei critici moderni, è la sua architettura più riuscita, Villa Capra La Rotonda.
Palladio, come si sa, fu notevolmente influenzato dall’architettura greco-romana e la sua innovazione, rispetto alle ville romane ed a quelle medicee toscane, fu quella che le sue abitazioni dovessero assolvere da un lato alle esigenze estetiche dei patrizi veneti e dall’altro ad una funzionalità produttiva, dove l’agricoltura doveva essere la nuova forma di sussistenza ed investimento.
His first Villa certainly documented, as reported by the Venetian architect himself in his treatise "The four books of architecture", was Villa Godi Malinverni located in Lonedo di Lugo di Vicenza, therefore not far from two must-see destinations for their historical value such as Bassano and Marostica.
This structure still preserves its original elements intact and is a faithful testimony of the first phase of his art.
Palladio in fact, from an already existing dovecote tower, derives a villa that almost reminds us of a fortification while the interiors were frescoed by two masters of Venetian painting, such as Antonio Fasolo and Giambattista Zelotti.
The Villa, which during the Second World War housed the British staff including the Prince of Wales, as a whole houses a paleontological museum, where it is possible to admire hundreds of fossils of plants and animals that lived in this area.
In the old barchesse, however, a restaurant has been opened with typical traditional Venetian cuisine, while in the beautiful outdoor gardens, which can be used all year round as public gardens, you can appreciate centuries-old trees, ponds and the long entrance avenues, once crossed by royal carriages.
If, on the other hand, we want to have a synthesis of what a country villa should be for Palladio, we must make a stop at Villa Caldogno which is located less than a kilometer from our structure.
In this residence with a limited environment, the architect from Vicenza was able to synthesize his idea of aesthetically beautiful and practically functional architecture.
This villa was built on a pre-existing building and, in order to take advantage of the walls belonging to the previous construction, it was designed with a simple and linear plan. The interior frescoes, made by Antonio Fasolo and Giambattista Zelotti, two of Paolo Veronese's best students, are the photograph of the customs and costumes typical of the time and propose the daily life of the Vicenza aristocracy in the Renaissance era, we pass from moments of life in the villa, such as a snack or dance with purely bucolic themes.
In the seventeenth century a terrace and two turrets were added to the complex while towards the end of the Second World War, a bunker was built by the German command behind the barchesse, which occupied the Palladian complex during the entire duration of the conflict.
However, what is considered one of Palladio's best works is Villa Almerico Capra Valmarana, called La Rotonda which was designed as an emulation of the Roman Pantheon. In addition to being the most beautiful, it is, among those created by the Maestro, also the most famous, the most visited and it is the one that has been most copied by all those artists who wanted to build palaces not only in Italy but also in London and in the States United, thus marking the history of modern era architecture. Icon of Renaissance architecture and synthesis of Palladian poetics, it was built near the Sanctuary of Monte Berico, given that the client was a high prelate from Vicenza, and was the perfect example of the new Renaissance philosophy of the concept of "ancient temple" with its four identical facades, the central dome and a perfect and symbolic geometry. The works of the villa began in 1566, but were completed only after the death of Palladio by his pupil Vincenzo Scamozzi who made no changes to the Master's project, except for the dome which was built lower than what it should have been. originally and with an open terminal oculus, to recall the idea of the Pantheon.
The same client, Paolo Almerico, died before the end of the works and the villa passed into the hands of the Capra brothers, from whom the villa then took its name. Scamozzi also had to add the annexes for agricultural functions, as originally there was no plot together with the villa.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Villa La Rotonda has belonged to the Valmarana family who seek to preserve this sixteenth-century jewel from the action of time.
These three residences are open on weekends in the morning and in the afternoon, except for Villa Godi which is open only in the morning, while on other days the visit is possible only by reservation, as well as the organization of guided tours.