ItalianNotebook – Italy Travel Blog

Italian Villas for The Duke or Duchess in You

Going on vacations in the countryside is a great way to destress or simply enjoy the kind of life you don’t usually experience when you live in the city. Villas were originally established for the ancient Roman upper-class to serve as their countryside residence. It is a display of one’s luxurious and powerful life. However, after the fall of the Roman civilization, the villas were made to be farming compounds, to monasteries. It was eventually turned back into a country house during the 14th century.

Here are some villas you should visit when in Italy:

Villa Contarini- Este

The villa is located in the town of Este, in the province of Padua in Northern Italy. During the 17th century, Giorgio Contarini ordered its construction on his hunting site. The Contarini family were prominent patrons in town of Este, having also commissioned the construction of the Porta di San Francesco, one of the main city gates. The villa was also named “Vigna Contarena” as it served both residential and agricultural purposes.

During the Napoleonic occupation of the Veneto region, the Contarini family retained ownership of the villa until 1820–1821. It was sold to the Prussian Count of Haugwitz. After the Count’s death, the property passed to several families. In 1992, Villa Contarini finally rested on the hands of the Caporali family.

The villa is filled with frescoes on the walls of the ballrooms and living rooms. Their gardens were Renaissance inspired abundant of vegetation. An added bonus to the tourists of the villa; before his death in 1832, the Count of Haugwitz made a request that his body be buried on the grounds of the villa so he may see the villa of Baroness Kunkler, whom he fell in love with.

Villa Contarini- Piazzola sul Brenta

Not to be confused with the aforementioned Villa Contarini, this villa is located in the municipality of Piazzola sul Brenta in the Veneto region. It was commissioned by Venetian brothers, Paolo and Francesco Contarini in 1546.

When it was first constructed, it was a grand villa with an odd-looking façade. In the 19th century, the Camerini family gave it a face lift and added a lovely English-style garden. An added charm across the villa is the Camerini Amphitheater which is formed by an arcaded building and surrounded by trees where important musical events take place.

The villa went though another beautification process in the 20th century after the Camirini family had neglected it. The renovation was courtesy of Professor G.E. Ghirardi who made the villa into the hub of a foundation in his name. Today, the villa has been made a venue for concerts and cultural events.

Villa Emo

The villa was created for the aristocrat Emo family in the village of Fanzolo di Vedelago. There has been no firm documentation on when the villa has been created nor when it was designed. However, the land where the villa is standing was known to be initially for the family’s agricultural activities when they inherited it.

Andrea Palladio has thoughtfully designed this villa to be something that did not need much decorations and ornaments. It is, however, painted with countless rich frescoes with a wide range of varieties in each room. Palladio recognizes this villa as one of his bests and talked about it in his masterpiece “The Four Books on Architecture”.

Fun fact:

The villa was used as a setting in the 2002 movie “Ripley’s Game”.

Villa Pisani

Amongst the other villas commissioned by the Pisani family, this one is located in the town of Stra in the Veneto region. It was constructed in the early 18th century for Alvise Pasani. The 114 rooms made the completion of the villa in honor of its owner, the 114th Doge of Venice.

Naploeon acquired the property from the family in 1807. The estate was then transferred to the House of Habsburg in 1814 and was made into a house of vacation for the European aristocracy. After 1866, the Villa became the property of the House of Savoy, who in 1882 transferred it to the Italian state. In 1934, it was partially restored to host the first meeting of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

The 18th-century painter, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, enhanced its two-story ballroom with frescoes of the depiction of the Glory of the Pisani family. Another famous and important room in the villa is the “Napoleon Room” which is decorated with pieces from when he occupied it as well as some from the Habsburg period.  To this day, the halls are often used for exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. You may also visit the preserved 30 rooms on the noble floor.

Villa Barbaro

The villa is another Renaissance design by the famous architect, Andrea Palladio. When the Barbaro family acquired this property, they began construction in 1560. After the last heir of the Barbaro family passed, it fell into the ownership of the Trevisan family. In 1996, the villa was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It passed on from family to family until in 1934, the founder of the Venice Film Festival bought the land for his daughter. The descendants of her family still currently call this villa their home with a farm that produces wine labelled with the name of the villa.

After seeing the villas and learning a brief history of who stayed in those villas, I now imagine myself visiting them for a ball held by the Duke and Duchess. It makes me want to break out my ball gown and chariot Bridgerton style. Imagine being able rub elbows with the nobilities in the jaw-dropping ballrooms or courtyards of these villas. Not feeling too fancy and would just like to breathe the fresh air in the country? That’s good too. Go on and hit the “Book Now” button to experience it for yourself and tell us how your experience was. Till then, Divertiti!

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