Venice is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its beauty and charm have inspired numerous artists, poets, and writers over the centuries. Attracted by its uniqueness and its magical atmosphere, Venice continues to draw travellers from all corners of the globe, with more than 25 million tourists visiting this enchanting city every year. However, due to the increasing tourism, it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate all that Venice and its culture has to offer.
Luckily, the opportunities to avoid the crowds and endless lines to see the masterpieces of this city are many. Venice is the capital of a culturally rich area, situated in the Veneto region in the northeastern part of Italy, where a wide range of interesting and exclusive features abound.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience that combines culture, the finest art and architecture in a romantic setting, then one of the best ways to do so is to visit the Venetian villas. These enchanting buildings are among Italy’s most treasured, and offers a unique and varied way to experience the Veneto region.
Villa Foscari, La Malcontenta
Villa Foscari, also known as “La Malcontenta” (The Discontent), was built by Andrea Palladio in 1554 and is registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Located in Mira, a district of Venice, this Villa is characterized by motifs of the lagoon building tradition and the typical ancient architecture. One example in this sense is that the façade is oriented toward the water.
This place is a playground for the art and architecture enthusiast, with the wonderful frescoes and exterior spaces all conceived in order to respect the harmony of the forms. Meanwhile, the stunning interiors can be associated with names like Battista Franco (who was influenced by Michelangelo) and Battista Zelotti (a partner of Paolo Veronese).
Castello di Roncade
Even if the Roncade Castle is, in structure, a castle, it is included among the Venetian Villas. Its distinctiveness is heralded by the fact that it is the only Venetian Villa that is surrounded by medieval city walls. It is located in the Treviso province just a few kilometres from Venice.
This castle is one of the most typical examples of the rural culture in the Venetian society and had been owned by the wealthy Giustinian family who lived there for almost four centuries (from the XVI century), maintaining the original splendour of the building. However, when all the members of the family died, the castle was given to other relatives who did not take care of it and let it deteriorate.
Luckily, in 1930 the baron Tito Ciani Bassetti recognized its value and decided to restore it, reviving the castle to its original beauty. Not only did he preserve its authentic structure, but he also started a winery which flourished due to the perfect lay of the land. Thanks to the fertile earth and to the current owner, now the Roncade Castle is home to the Roncade wine cellar.
Here, you can be transported back in time and experience the lifestyle of a bygone era. Today, as well as a working cellar door, the Roncade castle offers a unique bed & breakfast service where you can enjoy meals made from local produce.
Villa Tiepolo Passi
Villa Tiepolo Passi is a Seventeenth-century Veneto villa that is still inhabited by the noble Conti Passi de Preposulo family. It is situated in Treviso, a small city 40 km of Venice. In this historical residence, you can rediscover the flavours of the past, together with the warm hospitality and relaxed lifestyle of an ancient time.
Partake in a guided tour through beautiful rooms decorated with precious frescoes and enjoy some local produce like apricots, cherries, prunes, plums, pears, apples, and quince. At the end of an exciting day, you can rest in an exclusive apartment surrounded by the charm of Treviso. Throughout the year, the Villa is also home to enchanting theatrical and opera shows.
Villa Valmarana ai Nani
Villa Valmarana ai Nani is a marvellous artistic and architectural site, located in Vicenza. It is composed of three buildings: the Palazzina (luxury apartments), the Foresteria (guest house), and the Scuderia (stable) – all of which is framed by a vast park.
The Valmara family still reside in this villa, preserving each of its ancient traits. In particular, this structure has great value due to the fact that it hosts some of the most beautiful frescoes of Tiepolo.
Villa Valmarana ai Nani represents a great occasion for experiencing the past which can be sampled through private guided tours or the standard tour every Sunday, where you can admire its interiors and its breathtaking park. Sample specialty cuisine for lunch or dinner in one of the salons surrounded by Tiepolo’s frescoes. The villa also hosts concerts, operas and festivals throughout the year.
Located in Treviso, Villa Emo is a Venetian Villa built in 1558 by the architect Andrea Palladio . Its importance is such that it has been recognized by the United Nations and was included in the World Heritage List in 1996. Its relatively unassuming exterior betrays its rich, elaborate interior which boasts the remarkable work of Giovanni Battista Zelotti.
This building owes much of the interest it piques to the landscape on which it was built, namely, the extraordinary biodiversity of the nearby Piave River. Every month Villa Emo becomes the perfect scenery for numerous and diverse events: classical music concerts, performances, evenings of contemporary dance, meetings, weddings and much more. Here, art and nature meet in perfect harmony.
Considered the Queen of the Venetian Villas, Villa Pisani is the icing on the cake of our collection of Venetian Villas. And it is lauded by those who have an appreciation for luxury and exclusivity. From the location, the enchanting Brenta Riviera (ten minutes away from Padua and twenty from Venice), to the park (home to one of the most graceful labyrinths in Italy); every aspect of this villa seduces.
Apart from being a villa, it has also been nominated as a National Museum because of its extraordinary richness in structure, and for the art it houses. In 2008, the Villa Pisani park won the prize for the most beautiful Italian park. It has recently been renovated and is home to an exuberant and varied botanical collection. Don’t miss the cafe where you can enjoy excellent regional delicacies whilst sipping a cocktail as you watch the sun set.
So there you have it: the Veneto region is not only famous for its well-known cities like Venice, Verona and Padua, but also for its history, art, food specialities, mountains (Dolomites), rivers and sea. The region offers a plethora of experiential choices: from the Road of the Piave Wines (“Strada dei Vini del Piave”), or the Road of the Typical Products of Veneto, to historical buildings (like Palazzo Ducale in Venice, Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua, Canova Museum in Possagno, or Juliet’s House in Verona), or just get lost in cities like Verona, Padua, Vicenza or Treviso, you are sure to be hit by Veneto’s rich and unique historic and cultural heritage.
There are many ways to explore these gems, but probably the best way to experience it in all its exclusive and luxurious glory is via a tour which connects all the Venetian Villas through an unforgettable journey, where the fragrances of local produce meet the allure of ancient times.