Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno

February 27, 2014 / Places
Finale di Agugliaro, Veneto
Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesIn Italy, unlike many other places around the world, old buildings don’t die and make way for parking lots and shopping malls, they’re painstakingly restored.

Saraceno8_WMOne such renovation project is the Villa Saraceno in Finale di Agugliaro, a small country village midway between Vicenza and Padova in the Basso Vicentino.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesBuilt by Andrea Palladio, the father of western architecture, around 1545 as the centerpiece for an existing farm owned by Biagio Saraceno, the villa caught fire in 1798 and was severely damaged, partitioned off and used as a community farmhouse in the late 1800s, converted into tenement dwellings during World War II, and by the 1980s it was totally abandoned, derelict and forgotten.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesWith barely a pulse left in its facade, Villa Saraceno was plucked off the building emporium scrap heap by The Landmark Trust, a British charity charged with rescuing significant historic buildings at risk.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesPurchased in 1989, The Landmark Trust breathed new life into Villa Saraceno with a tedious five-year restoration project that culminated with the reopening of its doors and windows in 1994.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesOne of the earliest and most modest of High Renaissance master builder Palladio’s manors, the Villa Saraceno is one of 24 venerable estates still in existence today that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.”

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe villa house was erected on the preexisting farm with great precision, facing due south to maximize sunlight and frame the views of the mountains in the distance.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesInside, masterful high-beamed ceilings adorned with frescoes take your breath away, and the large rooms and spacious accommodations tell you immediately that once upon a time some noble family occupied the space.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio Images

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio Images
Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio Images
Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesA sturdy granary stretches underneath the roofline where it once preserved the fruits of this working estate’s labor, while a long, underground cellar kept wooden barriques of locally produced wines tucked quietly away.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio Images

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio ImagesToday, thanks to The Landmark Trust, parts of the villa are open to the public. While most Palladian villas are for viewing only, the Villa Saraceno is also available for self-catered holidays. Accommodating up to 16 people, an extended family can experience the villa as if it were their very own.

For more information on the Villa Saracino, visit The Landmark Trust website.

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio Images

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio Images

Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno | ©Tom Palladio Images

by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian Traveler.com, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based TravelingBoy.com, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

14 Responses to “Framing Palladio: Villa Saraceno”

  1. Bravo to The Landmark Trust for saving this magnificent property! And thanks to you, Tom, for providing the story and the link. What wonderfully exciting places to consider booking!

    Reply
  2. Thanks. I didn’t know about this little gem. Will take a drive and have a look at it once the rain stops!

    Reply
  3. It would have to be the British to come to the rescue. Why can’t the Italians ever get their act together. I know……….never enough money to spare!

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    • Marian — FAI, Italy’s National Trust, is doing it’s fair share of protecting some of the Bel Paese’s jewels, about 45+ in all. Thankfully, The National Trust breathed new life into Palladio’s Villa Saraceno.

      Reply
  4. Allan Mahnke

    Wonderful! Thanks! There are so many of these beautiful villas in the Vicenza area. We’re delighted to learn of this new one…at least new to us.

    Reply
    • Allan,

      There are about 1,500 classic villas dotting the Veneto landscape of which 150 are open to the public. I’ll get to them one front gate at a time.

      Reply

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