Tourist Information on the Riviera Brenta waterway that runs from the Lagoon of Venice to the nearby city of Padova and is home to over 200 hundred villas and summer residences that include the Villa Malcontenta by Palladio and the palatial Villa Pisani at Stra.
Riviera Brenta, Venice, Italy
Burchiello river cruise
Nowadays, the still waters of the Riviera Brenta are controlled by a series of locks and gates and what was once the route of a mighty river is now a canal created back in the fifteenth century. Tourists can cruise along the canal on the Burchiello tour of the Riviera Brenta.
Originally, the waterway was the course of the mighty river Brenta as it flowed into the Venetian lagoon and into the Adriatic Sea. In fact, many historians claim that the Grand Canal was built along the old riverbed of the River Brenta. But, the Venetian blamed the river for silting up their precious lagoon making it a hazard for shipping. They re-routed the river to flow directly into the Adriatic south of Venice, leaving a dry river bed. The Riviera Brenta was created when the Venetians started to drain the mainland swamps to salvage the land for agriculture. They put water back into th dry river bed controlling the water by a series of locks and gates.
It's close vicinity to Venice soon made it a popular place for the aristocracy and wealthy proffessionals to build second homes in the countryside that were a relative short distance from Venice. From the 16th century, a series of fine homes were built along the banks of the Riviera Brenta. Owners commuted to their homes on a horse drawn barge known as the Burchiello.
Although many people take the Riviera Brenta Burchiello cruise to see Palladian villas, there's only actually one Palladian Villa located on the Riviera Brenta. The notorious Villa Foscari, now more commonly known as the "Malcontenta". Built for the wealthy Foscari family, it was literally a bill-board for Palladian architecture. As Venetian taking the Burchiello cruise along the Riviera Brenta would have had to pass this villa en route. Built in the style of a Venetian palazzo, tall and narrow it features a play of color between the redness of the brick and the soap stone effect of the stucco that would have reminded the passing Venetians of their own Doges Palace.
The other famous Villa on the Riviera Brenta is the Villa Pisani at Stra. This 18th century villa is famous nowadays for the fact that Mussolini chose it as a venue to meet with Hitler. The building itself is forgettable, but the gardens are delight to explore, especially the maize. You could enjoy a tour of the Villa Malcontenta and a brief drive along the Riveira Brenta on our Palladio Villa Tour that also features Palladio's Villa Barbaro and the Villa Emo. The tour operates every saturday.