Palladian Villas and gardens not to be missed in Veneto

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From Valsanzibio to Giardino Giusti, from the labyrinth of Villa Pisani di Stra to the cosmopolitan spirit of the Villa Pisani Scalabrin garden: Venetian villas contain some of the most beautiful and famous gardens in Veneto.

The garden has always been one of the main elements of the Venetian villa ever since its origins, vesting as much importance as the architectural structure of the villa itself. Conceived initially as places to get some fresh air and rest, as well as being part of the outdoor area dedicated to agricultural activities (walled allotment, garden and fishpond), over time the gardens of the Veneto villas become a symbol of the wealth of nobility and their shape changed, in some cases - as in Villa Pizzoni Ardemani in Valsanzibio, on the Euganean Hills - becoming a proper monumental and scenic garden, designed by great artists and rich in symbolic figures and allegories, and dominated by mazes and fountains.

And particularly from the beginning of the sixteenth century, the creation of the spectacular gardens of Palladian villas was guided by philosophical and religious ideals, aesthetic taste and principles of botany. But the practical side was never missing: hydraulic knowledge was used to ensure that, in addition to creating spectacular effects, water was used efficiently, with minimum waste.

Beauty and pragmatism, 'business' and 'pleasure': a combination that gave life to real masterpieces of architecture and landscape: Palladian villas and gardens today allow you  to create interesting itineraries appealing not only to those who love art and history, but also to lovers of nature and greenery.

So here is a list of the most beautiful gardens of Veneto written by our insiders!

 

Let's start with an absolute masterpiece: the GARDEN OF VALSANZIBIO (also known as Villa Pizzoni-Ardemani), one of the largest Italian and European gardens located in the heart of the Euganean Hills Regional Park, at a short distance from Padua. This splendid 10-hectare baroque garden is the result of a vow: during the great European plague of the 1600s Lucrezia Lion, wife of Zuane Barbarigo - member of one of the richest families in Venice, died due to illness and her husband solemnly vowed to construct something great to celebrate God’s grandeur if the rest of his family were spared. He even moved with his children to Valsanzibio, where the Barbarigo family had estates and began to build the garden. It was his son Gregorio, who was a powerful Cardinal and councilor of Popes, Bishop of Padua and even a Saint, who entrusted the project to Luigi Bernini, fountain and pontifical landscape architect and brother of Gianlorenzo, the most famous baroque sculptor of all times. Gregorio Barbarigo was the 'mind' that inspired the philosophy and high symbolism of this magnificent garden to visit in Italy which contains one of the most beautiful box mazes in Europe, dozens of Istrian stone sculptures, statues, streams, waterfalls, fountains, ponds of water and fish, countless trees and bushes narrate the path towards perfection that leads man to Salvation, starting from the Error and Ignorance and reaching the Truth and Revelation.
A truly amazing garden visit that we recommend completing accompanied by a guide who can reveal the symbolism behind every element you will see (even in the smallest water jet) and who will take you even to the most fascinating places, including the Fontana dell'Iride - which reflects a rainbow, the Monument of Time and the Island of the Rabbits, elements which, placed in juxtaposition, symbolize the perennial condition of man limited in space and time, the Fountain of Games (or Pitfalls) where water jokes vivaciously with visitors, and the stairway of the Sonnet, near the end of the itinerary. But our attention is mainly captured by the centuries-old labyrinth of Valsanzibio, built with over 6,000 box hedges almost 400 years ago: the entire path inside the labyrinth is about 1,500 meters long and is full of detours and dead ends... It’s a real struggle to come out of it, so much so that at the finish line Gregorio Barbarigo invited visitors to stop in the Cave of the Hermit to meditate on the route and look for the best way to reach Piazzale delle Rivelazioni in front of Villa Barbarigo (now Pizzoni-Ardemani), the symbolic destination of this journey towards Salvation.

 

Another among the gardens of Veneto, Italy with a maze and a historic garden is the marvelous VILLA PISANI LA NAZIONALE in Stra (VE) along Riviera del Brenta. Defined as 'The queen' or also 'The Versailles' of Venetian Villas, this villa is surrounded by acres of parkland with ponds, fish ponds, statues and a nineteenth-century coffee house where exhibitions are still held today. The labyrinth of Villa Pisani is obviously the element that, among all, always arouses greater interest for its story: it was conceived as a labyrinth of love in which to get lost and then find the way out to get the much-sweated reward.

 

In an itinerary of the historic gardens of Veneto, as true insiders we cannot fail to mention the GARDEN OF VILLA PISANI BOLOGNESI SCALABRIN in Vescovana, Italy (PD) and the double-vaulted Villa Arvedi in Grezzana, on the Verona hills of Valpolicella.
The former was conceived and designed by Evelina van Millingen, a cultured English noblewoman who lived in the 1800s between Istanbul, Rome and Venice and whose ghost is said to still haunt the villa. Bride of a member of the Pisani family, she created this garden with love and cosmopolitan taste: classic Italian shapes, naturalistic corners typical of English gardens and elements of Islamic tradition give life - together with tulips, daffodils, roses, sculptures and architectures - to an incredibly harmonic garden.

 

The VILLA ARVEDI GARDEN in Verona is also part of the great Italian gardens and is unique in its kind for its double-vaulted shape. Delimited by walls to protect it from cold winds, it enhanced the beauty of the villa without losing its sobriety. The fountain in the center is surrounded by hedges of boxwood with geometric shapes or curves, which if observed from above (from the villa, for example) trace the outline of an elegant double fan. The hedges are still carefully pruned and curated.

 

Finally, in your journey among villas and gardens of the Veneto you cannot miss GIUSTI GARDEN in Verona as well, a splendid example of an Italian garden that in the past was visited by famous writers and artists including Goethe and Mozart. Its current structure dates back to 1570 and was designed to provide an elegant backdrop to Palazzo Giusti: from its terraces you gradually discover the view of Verona and enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city. It opens with a famous avenue of cypresses, and climbs up to a stalactite cave dominated by a mask from which tongues of fire could come out.

 

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