The Brenta, Villas… and Branzino

July 19, 2011 / Places
Mira, Veneto
The northern Italian town of Vicenza has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site yet it still is on the road less traveled for most Italian tourists unless you happen to be an architectural enthusiast. Then the city becomes your classroom and you become the pupil of Palladio.

Andrea di Pietro della Gondola (aka Palladio) was the last great architect of the Renaissance. He was often commissioned to build summer residences for Venetian nobles in the countryside around Vicenza. Villa Capra, also known as La Rotonda, and Villa Valmarana ai Nani (the Villa of the Dwarfs) are must see Palladian stops.

The scenic strand of “coastline” along the Brenta River that links Venice to Padua is known as the Riviera del Brenta (Brenta Riviera). Back in the day, noble families would travel in their burchielli (designer barges) along the Brenta Canal to their country estates to escape the heat of the Venetian summer, stopping to party along the way.

While you’re visiting the area of course, you too might as well stop along the Brenta for some branzino (sea bass). Local trattorie and restaurants along the Brenta Canal specialize in fresh fish and seafood and my cousin Roberto knew one of the best.

We matched the route of the burchielli to the town of Mira for some branzino and scampi giganti alla griglia. Finding the fish of the Brenta is GPS mandatory and you are better off if you can speak a little Italian. This area is definitely off the tourist radar and may take a little doing but it is well worth it.

(Hint hint… if however you get lost or have a tough time finding the “right” place, you could of course do worse than paying a visit to Antonia’s.)

– Images courtesy of Jiuguangw and Luca Violetto. Many thanks!

– Please welcome ItalianNotebook’s newest contributor, Pamela Marasco! Pamela is the owner of Cositutti, a unique travel and lifestyle resource for Northern Italy, Tuscany and Umbria. She also runs ItalyTaste and Travel, and blogs at Italy in 30 Seconds. Welcome!

3 Responses to “The Brenta, Villas… and Branzino”

  1. Vicenza is a gem! Next time you’re plannnig a trip to Venice, be sure to go to Vicenza — also to Verona — all on the same train line.

  2. louise

    How fascinating and how unlike so much of the Italy that we are used to. Thanks for the Note, Pamela, and welcome.

  3. Gian Banchero

    First there were Iktinos and Kallikrates, the main architects of the Parthenon, then there were Palladio and Michaelangelo… Thanks for bringing Palladio to our attention, to see his works is to witness poetry in stone.


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