Palladian Villas - Timeless Villas

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Here in Veneto we are used to seeing villas. All of us who live in this region have visited at least one, even if just 'by mistake' - perhaps for an event, an exhibition or a small market. The villas in Veneto are everywhere: in the countryside and especially in the hills, but also in the mountains and near the sea. Along the River Brenta, near the lagoon of Venice, in the beautiful city of Vicenza, the province of Treviso, or the Euganean Hills, these old residences are undoubtedly among the most beautiful places to see near Venice, Italy.

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Want to know how to visit Palladian villas? Why are they so special?
We at Insidecom know them inside out, but above all we know their secrets. Because every villa has its own unique, original, sometimes mysterious soul. Listening to these stories means discovering the deep and 'secret' heart of Veneto, which lies far from the main tourist routes: this is an area that hides infinite surprises and keeps them guarded right inside the villas.
As real insiders who know the area like the back of our hand, we have lots of tips that will help you plan your visit to the Palladian villas in Veneto in an original way. These Timeless Villas (LINK) are places where you can live truly unique experiences.

 

Speaking of experiences, what can you do in Venetian villas?
There’s much more than simple guided tours to follow! For example, you can have the chance of living a day as a 'noble' and a privileged guest of the villa owners or hear Counts of ancient origins share anecdotes on their ancestors, as well as taste excellent wine in an environment normally closed to the public, enjoy the park of the villa with a refined picnic in complete relaxation, get lost in historical labyrinths and gardens full of allegories, admire frescoes and sculptures that the whole world envies, discover small museums…this and much more!
Have we sparked your curiosity? Then follow us as we at Insidecom unveil all the secrets of the Villas in the Veneto region and of the Timeless Villas that we have selected with passion just for you!

 

What is a Venetian villa?
We must start from a historical fact: in the 1400s, the Venetian nobles began to take an interest in the countryside because trade with the Serenissima by sea began to weaken. So the rich families of the lagoon bought land in the countryside and turned it into farmland. But they also organised it in a ‘business’ way and devoted it to the most various production scopes. This was a complex activity that had to be followed closely, and that required a mansion for the landowner to exhibit his newly acquired status: this is how the Venetian villa in Veneto was born.
A villa is a countryside residence for nobles, functionally located close to farming activities but at the same time expression of the owner's wealth: to design and decorate it, the greatest artists and architects were commissioned, including Andrea Palladio, Paolo Veronese, Gianbattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo.

 

How many Venetian villas are there?
There are over 4,000, because the mainland extends for miles on end, and villas were built everywhere, even in the hills. Every province of our region today has at least one of the most beautiful villas in Italy. This is why it is impossible to visit them all at once, so the ideal option would be to plan an itinerary for Palladian villas lasting several days, exploring every area one by one.

 

How was a Venetian villa built?
The first Venetian villas (at the end of the 1400s) were real no-frills farmhouses, with stables, outhouses, cellars, warehouses and a courtyard with domestic animals where the main agricultural activities were carried out, such as beating wheat, pealing legumes etc. The estate was surrounded by a park which isolated it, and in some cases also by real medieval walls (still visible today, for example, at the Castle of Thiene).
The famous Andrea Palladio 'only' arrived in the 1500s. He completely revolutionised the concept of a villa: for the first time he combined business with pleasure by designing Italian mansions that were no longer just agricultural in scope, but also enhanced the wealth and moral virtues of the owners. Palladian style villas are of extraordinary architectural beauty, inspired by the Greek and Roman classicism, but also perfectly functional for working the fields and inextricably linked to the surrounding landscape.
Two of his greatest masterpieces were born in this period, today among the most beautiful and famous villas of Veneto: Villa Almerico Capra in Vicenza (called La Rotonda), and Villa Barbaro Volpi in Maser (simply called Villa di Maser).
In the following centuries Palladio's architecture style became a real 'fashion' and was taken as a model for many architectural buildings of the European and Anglo-Saxon world, including even the White House in the United States. Since 1996, the Palladian villas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

What was the famous ‘villa life’ like?
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the ‘villa life’ reached its maximum splendour: the famous playwright Goldoni tells us that ‘everyone enjoys immense freedom, there are great celebrations, open tables, dance parties and shows' and describes the fashion of going around villas, particularly popular at villas along the Brenta river because of their proximity to Venice. Cheerful brigades of people celebrating set off on the 'burchiello', a rowing boat that departed from St Mark’s, to spend their holidays in the villas.
In this period the villas of Veneto were often brought to life with celebrations, games, plays, romantic liaisons and secret affairs: the maximum splendour they would reach before the beginning of decadence.
In 1797 the Serenissima fell apart with the Treaty of Campoformido and a long period of intellectual and material decline for the nobility began. Many villas were abandoned and, between the 1800s and the 1900s, with the onset of wars, bombing and changes of use, they underwent great damages. Fortunately, the most important and beautiful villas were preserved and cared for by their owners or public authorities and are still today treasure troves full of great wonders.

 

How to visit Palladio Villas
We advise you to plan a slow itinerary, without hurry, possibly by car or by bike, and organize one for each area because the major villas can be quite apart from each other - depending on where you set off from, so it is better to concentrate on one geographic area at a time.
If you wish to visit more than one villa a day, we suggest you plan an itinerary for Palladian villas by car and for each area: one day for the villas of Riviera del Brenta, one day for the villas in Vicenza, one day for the villas in the province of Treviso. Some villas are in locations which cannot be reached by train or through other means of public transport, but are surrounded by beautiful landscapes and can be reached by following convenient cycle paths: a bike ride on the Euganean Hills or along the Riviera del Brenta, for example, is easy and pleasant. A real delight for the eyes.

 

What is the best time of year to visit them? Do they all have the same opening times and days?
The best time to visit a Palladian villa is from March to the end of October, but visits are generally possible almost all year round except for part of the winter. Before traveling, we suggest you always check the opening times and days on the website or the social media channels of the villa that you are interested in: many villas are in fact private residences still inhabited by the owners, and they can only be visited on certain days and at certain times; some even vary from month to month or from week to week.

 

In conclusion... 3 good reasons to plan a visit to the Venetian villas:

  • because they are not only museums, but places that are alive and full of surprises: historic cellars, excellent restaurants, secret rooms, secular parks, mazes, abodes of writers and artists... villas full of stories that you cannot find in any book, and that in some cases will be shared directly by the owners
  • to discover the authentic side of the Veneto region, its culture and secrets, far from the itineraries of mass tourism
  • to live original, out of the ordinary, unique and slow-paced experiences in tune with nature... just like the ones that Insidecom has selected for you with attention in its Timeless Villas!