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!
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