After Almerico’s death, La Rotonda’s ownership was passed to his son Virginio, who then sold it in 1591 to Odorico and Mario Capra. And, La Rotonda changed hands once more when the Valmarana family of Venice took ownership of Palladio’s masterpiece on the hill in 1911, and it has remained with them for safe keeping ever since.
Of the 24 Palladian villas of the Veneto labeled UNESCO World Heritage sites, only La Rotonda has the temple-like feel that sets it apart from all of the other countryside estates that dotted the landscape of the then Most Serene Republic of Venice.
As Niccolò points out, “The central round hall, with its impressive domed vault, is framed outside by four, equally-balanced and identical facades, each accented by six Ionic columns that support the airy porticos and wide steps.”
Inside, where I’m not allowed to remove the lens cap, I attempt to grasp the genius of Palladio, and the precision workmanship of his army of artisan craftsmen, as everywhere I turn I just can’t believe my eyes. It is, in a word, MAGNIFICO!
The raising of the villa-temple is all Palladio, but many of the interior decorations — frescos by father-son painters Giambattista and Alessandro Magnaza and Frenchman Louis Dorigny and stuccoes by Agostino Rubini — along with the barchessa fronting the villa and the property wall surrounding it, both designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, were all added after the Maestro’s passing.
The centerpiece of La Rotonda’s interior is, believe it or not, a decorative air-duct cover on the floor, directly underneath the frescoed cupola. It is here, on this spot, that La Rotonda’s honored guests would be positioned to receive those in attendance who came to admire and applaud their achievements.
As Niccolò explains, “Being placed on this ‘pedestal’ inside La Rotonda was quite an honor for the select few, and indicated, at least for the moment, that they were standing symbolically at the center of the known universe with all eyes upon them.”
The gates of La Rotonda are open to visitors — group or private tours — most of year, on various days of the week and at varying times. For complete information, just click HERE.