Twenty-four historic villas, each one a stepping stone through the High Renaissance, dot the landscape across the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. All of these “lord of the manor” estates were designed by Andrea Di Pietro della Gondola, better known as Palladio, the most influential individual in the history of western architecture.
These two dozen countryside landmarks are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.” With the aid of my car’s GPS, along with willing curators clutching keys, I plan on photographing as many of these fine examples of Palladian real estate as I can, one front gate at a time.
Don’t look now, but we’ve just pulled up to one such iron portal at 41 Via Castello, the address of Villa Poiana, the patrician estate of Poiana Maggiore in the Province of Vicenza.
Commissioned by Bonifacio Poiana, a member of a centuries-old family of wealthy landowners, Palladio completed the design work in the late 1540s. Construction began in the early 1550s and was finally completed when the paint dried in 1563.
Signore Poiano’s military past is reflected in the austere exterior design and complimented by a series of interior frescoes, some military themed, painted by Bernardino India and Anselmo Canera, with sculptures by Bartolomeo Ridolfi.
According to Palladian experts, the villa remains one of the most curious examples of Palladio’s creative style, especially in the building’s main feature on the facade, an arched window with five circular holes reminiscent of ancient Rome.
I’ve removed the lens cap. What do you say we take a look around this quaint little abode?
Join me again next time when I remove the lens cap and frame another of Maestro Palladio’s estates. You might even overhear me ask the curator, “Are all utilities included in the monthly rent?”