Palladian Villas in Veneto, Italy

Palladio and his most famous villas

The Palladian Villas of Veneto are famous Venetian Renaissance villas designed by the great architect Andrea Palladio in the 16th century. These beautiful buildings can be found throughout the Veneto region, although most are concentrated in the province of Vicenza . This is where the famous architect was born and where he worked on his most important projects.

The basics of Palladio’s work

Andrea di Pietro della Gondola (1508- 1580), known as Palladio , from Pallas Athens (a nickname marking the classicism of his art), was one of the greatest Italian architects of the 16th century. Born in Padua to a family of humble origins, Palladio worked as a stonemason for sixteen years, which greatly influenced his artistic vision. Palladio had always shown an exceptional sensitivity to the quality of architectural surfaces, with a marked predilection for simple materials such as terracotta, plaster and wood.

In 1537, Palladio meets the literati Gian Giorgio Trissino, who asks Andrea to accompany him on his travels: first to Veneto, particularly to Verona (where Palladio will first see ancient monuments) and then to Rome. During this and other trips to Rome, made between 1541 and 1554, Palladio continued his systematic study of classical architecture and developed a desire to imitate it, subjecting it, in a sense, to contemporary needs.

In Rome, Palladio also has the opportunity to be directly acquainted with the great Roman architecture of the early sixteenth century, in particular, with the architecture of Bramante, whom the Paduan always considered his ideal master. This complex cultural and architectural formation would be reflected in Palladio’s artistic work, which the architect would place at the service of the wealthy aristocracy of Veneto and Vicenza. Much of Palladio’s work involves the design of villas and prestigious residences that testify to the authority and influence of Venetian interests on the mainland.

Palladian Villas

Andrea Palladio, Villa Almerico Capra (La Rotonda) in a drawing published by Palladio in his Four Books on Architecture, 1570

Palladio’s architectural vision reached its full maturity after 1550 and was embodied in the distributive and volumetric logic of the palaces and villas, in the urbanist consciousness with which these buildings fit into their surrounding context and in the attention the architect paid to their functional and symbolic values. The phenomenon of the “villeggiatura” (country holiday) in Veneto began to develop in the sixteenth century, after the expansion of Venetian interests on the mainland. The attitude of the aristocrats towards the countryside changed profoundly, and during the century there were many orders for luxurious villas.

The villas built by Palladio for the Venetian and Vincentian aristocracy were part of this historical and social context. They marked the territory with signs of architecture that were both very modern and antique, masterfully satisfying the cultural ambitions of their wealthy patrons.

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Palladian villas, known today as “Veneto villas,” were built mainly on the outskirts of Vicenza and were conceived as recreational areas and efficient production complexes. In fact, they were often surrounded by cultivated fields and vineyards and included, in addition to the owner’s residence, warehouses, stables and storage facilities for working tools. Palladio published plans, sections and diagrams of the projects of his villas in his treatise “Four Books of Architecture” (1570). Due to the success of the book, European architects of subsequent generations, up to the nineteenth century, chose these buildings as examples of unrivaled examples of the country villa. Between 1994 and 1996, 24 Palladian villas were included, along with the city of Vicenza, on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Classic forms for modern villas

Andrea Palladio, Villa Almerico Capra (La Rotonda), 1566-85. Vicenza. Detail of the portico.

Palladio, in designing these buildings, reinterpreted in a completely new and original way two traditional types of villa structures, the villa-farm and the suburban villa . The architect demonstrated, in fact, great compositional freedom, while remaining within a certain number of basic combinations and always remaining faithful to simple distributive norms.

Palladio’s villa-farms, for example, represent the central part of a private dwelling, to which are added outbuildings overlooking the surrounding countryside, creating an organic link between the architecture and the agricultural spaces. The central part of the building is usually dominated by a large hall, preceded by loggias and smaller rooms.

Suburban villas conceived almost like classical temples – for example the Villa Almerico Capra, known as La Rotonda – testify to the universality, according to Palladio, of ancient models that can be embodied in modern buildings. The facades of Palladio’s villas are essentially classical temple elevations, expressing the highest architectural dignity and nobility.

Studying Roman architecture, the Padua architect came to the erroneous conclusion that private construction was the first stage in the development of public buildings: he believed that the forms of the temples reflect the external appearance of houses, in part because he had no visible remains of ancient dwellings. The use of temple elevations for private construction was therefore, in his view, a legitimate restoration of the ancient practice. Moreover, the use of columns and pediments on the facade emphasized the sacred significance of these buildings dedicated to the cult of rural life.

Palladio’s 5 most famous villas

If you want to admire the architecture of the Palladian villas you can visit the following five, which, for their history, their beauty and their splendor, help to create an image of the genius of the famous architect. They are all open to the public during the summer, easily accessible and conveniently located throughout the Veneto region.

Villa La Rotonda

Andrea Palladio, Villa Almerico Capra (La Rotonda), 1566-85. Vicenza

Villa Almerico Capra, known as Villa La Rotonda, is Palladio’s most famous villa in the Veneto. It is also a symbol of Palladio. Located in Vicenza, the villa is on a hill not far from the historic center. It was built by Palladio for Bishop Paolo Almerico, who wanted an elegant building for a secluded life in the tranquility of the Vicenza countryside.

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The peculiarity of this villa is that it is the first example of a “villa tempio,” that is, a villa-temple, because it combines the circular plan of a temple and the square plan of a villa. With this design, perfectly proportioned in each of its parts, Palladio directly cites the model of the Roman Pantheon.

Palladio’s masterpiece is fascinating not only for its architecture, its magnificent frescoed interiors, but also for the beautiful panorama that opens onto the Vicenza countryside and the famous sanctuary of Monte Berico.

Villa Cornaro

Andrea Palladio, Villa Cornaro, 1560-65, front façade. Piombino Deze (Padua).

Villa Cornaro ( Villa Cornaro ), a typical example of a Palladian country villa, was designed by Palladio in 1552 at Piombino Deze (near Padua) for the influential Venetian patrician Giorgio Cornaro. It is known that the works were carried out with a certain speed and that the villa, although not yet completed, was already habitable in 1554. The building was then completed according to Vincenzo Scamozzi’s original design in 1588. Villa Cornaro has a two-story main building connected by elegant staircases. The first floor, with a large central hall with four columns, was used as a hall for receptions and guests; the two upper apartments were reserved for the Cornaro family, who probably lived there also in winter, as evidenced by the numerous fireplaces.

The front and rear facades consist of a magnificent loggia, as wide as the central hall, with a double row of columns topped by a triangular pediment. On the main façade the loggia is designed as a projecting pronaos, while on the garden façade the double loggia does not project: the columns follow the line of the adjoining walls. Obviously, the facades with their noble appearance were meant to serve as a “calling card” for the entire building.

Villa Badoer

Andrea Palladio, Villa Badoer, 1554-63. Fratta Polesine (Rovigo).

The Villa Badoèr, also known as La Badoera, was designed by Palladio in 1554 and built between 1556 and 1563 at the request of Francesco Badoère, a descendant of a famous Venetian family who had inherited a large estate in the Venetian countryside after a successful marriage. This villa-farm had to meet two basic needs of the client: on the one hand, to enable him to manage his income while living directly on his land, and on the other hand, to publicly testify to his economic well-being.

Palladio achieved his goal by designing a very noble lordly building, connected to the service buildings arranged in a semicircle, whose shape, as the architect himself wrote, recalls the image of an open embrace welcoming visitors. The main building of the complex stands on a high plinth, in imitation of an ancient temple, to which a picturesque staircase leads. Such a difference in elevation not only ennobled the residence, but also protected the apartments from floods from the nearby river.

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The only articulated façade is the main one, whose loggia has six Ionic columns topped by a tall triangular pediment with the family coat of arms. The distance between the third and fourth columns is greater than the others to emphasize the main entrance to the villa. The first floor housed the offices, the main floor the family rooms and the attic was used as a granary. After a series of changes of owners, the villa was sold to the Italian State which completely restored it. Today it is home to the National Archaeological Museum of Fratta Polesine, which displays numerous prehistoric Bronze Age artefacts.

Villa Foscari

Andrea Palladio, Villa Foscari (La Malcontenta), 1556-59, frontal view of the Naviglio del Brenta. Mira (Venice).

The Villa Foscari, known as La Malcontenta, is one of Palladio’s most famous villas. It was built between 1556 and 1559 in Malcontenta (hence the name), a place along the Naviglio del Brenta, not far from Mira (Venice). The building, which was completed in 1566 when it was visited by Vasari, was commissioned by the brothers Nicolo and Alvise Foscari. The two gentlemen wanted an elegant country residence that could be reached by boat directly from Venice. Thus, La Malcontenta was not conceived as a villa-farm, although in the following decades the Foscari’s expanded it by building numerous service quarters.

The villa stands on a high basement floor, to which a pair of side staircases lead. The elegant loggia with six columns, topped by a triangular pediment, is reminiscent of a Greek temple raised on a pedestal. Palladio masterfully achieved this monumental effect by using simple building materials such as brick for both walls and columns. The plastering resembles a stone surface with a slightly embossed pattern known as “rusticated stone”.

Villa Foscari (La Malcontenta), rear facade

The rear façade overlooking the garden is characterized by a rare elegance. Its middle part is not very protruding and lacks architectural orders: Palladio chose to decorate it only with numerous windows and rusticated ashlar. A small triangular pediment projecting from the roof rises above a large pediment interrupted below by a monumental semi-circular triple lancet window that illuminates the large central hall.

Abandoned in the 18th century and used as a warehouse and agricultural storehouse, the building fell into disrepair in the early 19th century. It was only in the last century, when the villa passed into the hands of another family, that it was rescued from its long-term decline thanks to two restoration projects. Its present state, however, is the result of the continuous efforts of the Foscari family, which bought Palladio’s masterpiece in 1973.

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Villa Barbaro in Mazera

Andrea Palladio, Villa Barbaro, 1556-60. Maser (Treviso)

Another splendid example of a country villa is the Villa Barbaro in Mazera, built in 1554 at the request of Daniele Barbaro, a wealthy humanist who asked Palladio to create a place dedicated to “otium” (from the Latin, “sweet doing nothing”) in which he could devote himself to his studies. The building, built between 1556 and 1560, has simple and well-balanced forms and blends in with the surrounding landscape. Its main façade is ennobled by a central part conceived as a tetrastyle Ionic temple (with four columns). Inside the villa are magnificent frescoes by Veronese .

Veronese, frescoes of the Villa Barbaro in Mazer, c. 1561 Masere (Treviso), Villa Barbaro.

The architecture of Palladio’s villas is timeless, which is why it can easily be described as classical . Palladio knows how to blend into the ever-changing landscape and how to recreate, on the example of the Greek temple, a stimulating, harmonious relationship between two contrasting concepts: the certainty of form, man-made and therefore an expression of civilization, and the freedom of form of nature.

The Palladian Villas: a tour of Veneto’s treasures


Among the many historical and artistic wonders that our Italy offers us, there is no doubt to include the Palladian Villas, designed by the great Andrea Palladio and located in Veneto. There are as many as 24 gems attributed to this Venetian architect and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, worth a visit at least once in your life.

Fonte: Pixtury.

In fact, they are a real attraction for many tourists from all over the world and fascinated by the history of these impressive villas unique.

Palladian Villas: the great works of Andrea Palladio

Mentioning the great works of Andrea Palladio is a must, given the treasures of priceless beauty and historical and cultural wealth that he donated to our country and that attract thousands of visitors each year. Born in Padua in 1508, Andrea di Pietro della Gondola known as Palladio was an Italian Renaissance set designer as well as the greatest architect of the Republic of Venice.

Fonte: TgTourism

It was in this area that he designed many villas as well as churches and palaces, especially in Vicenza, where he studied and lived. In addition to the famous structures that have taken his name, there are many other works, including the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.

Fonte: Wikipedia

We should also remember:

Palazzo Tiene in Vicenza Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice Olympic Theater in Vicenza Bridge over the Tesina in Vicenza

But without a doubt, the Palladian Villas have left an indelible mark on the Region in terms of their features and structure.

Palladian Villas: the characteristics and structure of elegant country houses

It is very interesting to note that the villas designed by Palladio have characteristics that set them apart from other historic structures dating back to the Roman and Medici periods in Tuscany. They are elegant rustic structures, surrounded by cultivated fields and vineyards, with real warehouses, stables and storage rooms for farm implements.

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These villas were commissioned by the highly sophisticated urban aristocracy to create real production complexes, while maintaining elegance and sobriety. Inside them, in fact, we note that the central body, intended for the owners, is divided into a working.

Palladian Villas: the most beautiful to visit at least once

  • One of the most famous is the Villa Almerico Capra called La Rotonda and located in Vicenza, which for centuries has been visited by artists, poets, kings and statesmen. Here the architect’s grandeur is evident in all its splendor and the structure becomes a source of emotion from any point you admire it. It stands on a plateau not far from the city overlooking a vast stretch of Venetian countryside below
  • Villa Godi Valmarana, which also houses a paleontological museum with a decidedly more austere exterior and a garden also designed by Palladio
  • Villa Foscari called Malcontenta, which is located in Malcontenta di Mira near Venice, also called one of the most beautiful villas in the world and in which references to Roman architecture are evident
  • Villa Emo in Fanzolo di Vedelago in the province of Treviso, perhaps one of the most complete buildings in its various architectural elements, and also one of the most extensive, which includes a park where there is an important ecosystem of plants
  • Villa Barbaro Volpi in the province of Treviso, Villa Pisani in Stra, Villa Bertolo Valmarana in Vicenza, Villa Arvedi in Grezzana and Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta

Other attractions in Veneto

In addition to the beautiful Palladian Villas , the Veneto territory has much more to show, between the natural scenery and artistic wonders every corner of this land must be discovered. Needless to say, the region offers so much to lovers of winter sports that every year they choose the most popular destinations, among which stands out Cortina d’Ampezzo, to spend a few days of rest and fun on the most beautiful slopes.

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But also lovers of trekking and hiking, here you can find the most beautiful and evocative places to discover.

Alta Via 1 delle Dolomiti - Trekking dal Lago di Braies a Belluno

Fonte: Holimites

Of course you can not miss a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in Veneto, the beautiful Venice, surrounded by water and rich in history and culture or even the romantic Verona home of unhappy lovers Romeo and Juliet

Very interesting also several food and wine tours, where you can taste the excellent dishes of the culinary tradition, accompanied by a vini doc. A unique experience to experience through a tour of typical products such as asiago, radicchio, cod Vicenza and more.

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Fonte: In Italia

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