Tourist information on the famous Palladian Villas of the Veneto by the acclaimed Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio whose works include Villa Rotonda, Villa Malcontenta, Villa Barbaro, Villa Godi and Villa Emo, amongst the many villas that you can visit while in Veneto. Also, information on offered tours of the famous Palladian Villas.
The region of Veneto boasts over 2,000 villas or summer residences of antiquity, of which many draw inspiration from the architecture of the villas designed by Andrea Palladio.
Andrea Palladio worked as a villa architect from around the mid 1530s up until 1566. Within this period he built numerous villas all over the Venetian countryside from Verona to the province of Treviso. The highest concentration of Palladian Villas is located in the province of Vicenza.
The talents of Andrea Palladio as an architect were first recognized by the citizens of Vicenza, for whom Palladio built numerous villas in and around the city. The first villa built by Palladio was Villa Godi which sits on the soft undulating hills that rise in the west side of Vicenza.
For most architects their first project is perhaps an extension to a pre-existing structure or a second-home hidden away in the countryside. The sheer size of Villa Godi and its prominent position on the hills provided quite a challenge to the young architect.
Naturally, Palladio took no risks with the design of the Villa, as he didn't want that his first architectural project was also his last one. In his description in his four books talking about architecture, he remembered fondly this Villa, and he returned many years later to Villa Godi to help plan-out its interior decorations.
With the exception of Villa Rotonda, most of the Villas by Andrea Palladio located in and around Vicenza are prime examples of an architect trying to realize his own true identity or his own particular style. These Villas were all, more or less, restoration projects of previously manor houses built in 14th century.
In many cases Palladio's input as an architect was restricted by the pre-existing core of the building, which prevented him from executing certain desired architectural features. Such as Villa Valmarana in Vigardolo, where the pre-existing structure prevented Palladio from executing his first pediment.
But, as you drive along back roads in endless maize fields to discover many of these lesser-known Villas, there is always something that catches your eye in the way Palladio continually developed new ideas and systems through which his Villas always seem to possess their own unique trademarks of the master.
Many of these Villas are privately owned and are not open to the public. But, there are several that are still open to the public and so suitable for the visit with our tour of the Palladian Villas. And, it's even possible to rent a Palladian Villa for those who are looking for a rather unique Italian vacation.
One of the more interesting Palladian Villas to visit is Villa Pojana in Pojana Maggiore. Off the beaten track and rarely visited by tourists, this Villa offers to the visitor the unique experience of being able to explore a Palladian Villa on the all three levels.
From the basement level which would have been home to the kitchens and storage areas for the household and servant quarters, through the richly decorated main level or piano nobile, to the attic story where grain would have been stored in Palladio's time.
The attic story has opened timbers so that visitors can admire the architectural forms of the vaulted ceilings of the floor below.
The more celebrated Villas of Andrea Palladio are located in the province of Treviso, and along the Riviera del Brenta, close to Venice. Here, we find Villa Barbaro, famous for its frescoes by Veronese, Villa Emo, which many regard as the Villa that epitomizes Palladio's vision of the ideal villa, and of course the infamous Villa Foscari, La Malcontenta, located on the banks along the Rivera del Brenta.
These Villas were built in the late 1550s and early 1560s for a much wealthier clientele, the Venetians. Unlike the people from Vicenza, Palladio's earlier clientele, who having financial problems tried to limit the expenses of building a country home, so in many cases scaled back the designs of Palladio, the Venetians on the other hand requested Palladio to enlarge the architectural volume, so to speak. And, these Villas designed by a mature Palladio began to really show the hand of a true master.
La Malcontenta, famous for its legend and awe-inspiring portico, and Villa Barbaro for its frescoes are the most visited of these Villas. It's probably Villa Emo the highlight for most people touring the Palladian Villas. It's the only surviving Palladian Villa that truly and completely reflects the ideals of Andrea Palladio. The plan and design of the Villa was executed to the exact specifications of Andrea Palladio. His other villa designs went through major changes and compromises before being built, whereas this particular building is of pure Palladio.
Villa Rotonda, located near the city of Vicenza, according to Palladio's own definition is a palace (palazzo) not a villa, because of its close location to the city of Vicenza. Villa Rotonda is Palladio's most famous building, but it's not a villa.
It was built as a party house, a place to entertain friends and guests of a certain Paolo Almerico, and its design was inspired by pagan temples that Palladio had studied during his travels. So, if you want to enjoy a day exploring the Villas of Palladio, you'll have to explore the countryside of the Veneto region to discover the true Palladian Villas.