Venice has an array of villas that are historically interesting and beautiful to see. They make for another outstanding thing to do in a city already filled with so many.
Villa Pisani is a baroque villa in Stra. Begun in the early 1700s, it was the home of the man appointed Doge of Venice in 1735. The design was based on the elaborate Versailles. While it doesn’t quite match that magnificent building and grounds outside Paris, it does have much to recommend it.
The view alone is worth the side excursion about 20 mi/30 km from the city. The enormous facade of the villa is capped with statues and sports a highly decorated entrance with huge columns supported by caryatids.
Like Versailles, there are around the villa several acres of gardens, horse stables, a maze carved out of shrubs and much more. The long pool in front of the main building is extraordinary by itself, but also sports statues at each corner that are well worth a look.
Inside, the villa contains several frescoes including one by the famed Giovanni Tiepolo, including the Glory of the Pisani family. Others are by his son Gian Domenico, Guarana and other artists of the period. While most of the rooms are now empty, there are several on the first floor that contain furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The villa has seen its share of history, too. Napoleon acquired the villa in 1807 after one of his many conquests. It was recovered with his defeat a few years later. It has been a national monument since 1882. Hitler conferred with Mussolini, the WWII-era Fascist dictator of Italy, here in 1934.
There are other villas worthy of mention, as well.
Otherwise known as The Villa Capra, La Rotunda is among the most famous in an area containing several stellar examples. Designed by the famed architect Palladio, it was completed by his student in the late 16th century.
Villa Emo Capodilista
Another from Palladio, this villa shows the master’s use of a Greek style facade in the form of four large columns. The effect resembles a Greek temple and it isn’t hard to imagine those living in it feeling divine. The grounds have several farm buildings that extend from the central structure.
Still another of Palladio’s works, Villa Cornaro is located in Padova. An earlier design from 1533, it was among the first to have a two-story projecting loggia. The style was widely adopted by those following the innovative architect. It can be seen in Georgian and Colonial architecture all over the south in the U.S., for example. Similar elements can be seen in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which was based directly on the Villa Cornaro.
Another villa in Padova, this summer residence is perhaps the largest and most complex in this style. The interior holds a music hall frequently used by the oft invited composer Vivaldi. It houses many outstanding frescoes of the period, as well as a collection of maps and drawings.
Visit any of the villas near Venice and observe that the word has a very different meaning from its more common cousins in Tuscany.