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Riviera del Brenta

The Riviera del Brenta connects Padua with the lagoon of Venice by 36 km of beautiful and unique countryside: a landscape which depicts art and culture, nature and history, reaching from Stra to Fusina.

The construction of a canal in this area began in the 16th century. The new waterway engendered a type of 'bucolic civilisation', echoes of which can still be felt today in the rustic barns of the villas, the expanses of greenery and the wherries which are berthed here. It was the Venetian nobility who, attracted to the countryside, built their houses here. At first their agricultural settings gave them a functionality of design, though quickly they became transformed into luxurious residences, thus initiating the so-called 'villa culture'.

This area, between toil and ease, quickly became populated, and it became commune for the nobility from the lagoon to own a villa on the Brenta, and to reach such by burchiello boat from San Marco. Only a few villas are today open to the public, though a visit along the river allows us to admire several. Many of the patrician residences, clothed in their immortal elegance, are focussed around the areas of Stra, Dolo and Mira.

Of these, it is possible to visit Villa Foscarini Rossi, the first to be encountered on the road after the centre of Stra, and which was designed by Palladio; Villa Pisani, the most important, erected as a ducale residence and studded with frescoes including one by Tiepolo and with its famous maze in the vast gardens; Villa Widman at Mira; and finally, on the outskirts of Fusina, Villa Foscari, known as La Malcontenta, built according to a design by Palladio.

Worthy of a visit, even if only from the outside, are the La Barbariga, on the other bank not far from Dolo, the 16th century Villa Querini Stampalia at Mira, and the Villa Gradenigo at Oriago. The most captivating excursion must surely be a cruise along the river between Padua and Venice.