Villas of the Brenta Canal

Palladio's Villa Foscari or "Malcontenta"

Palladio's Villa Foscari or "Malcontenta"

On our travels we are forever gathering design inspiration to bring back to our clients.  What better place to do that than to visit a few Villas in the Veneto?  We toured three villas along the Brenta Canal.  The Brenta Canal is a natural waterway that connects Venice with Padua.  In the 18th Century (and even before) wealthy Venetians built summer houses along the canal as status symbols and as a way to escape the summer heat in Venice. 
Our first stop was one of the oldest villas, Palladio’s Villa Foscari, built between 1555 and 1560.  This is proof that “classic” never goes out of style.  The proportions of the exterior are perfect!  Inside, every surface is covered with frescoes done in the 1600’s.  They have faded now to a beatiful patina of soft colors and subtle detail.  Magnificent!  The villa is now privately owned and none of the original furnishings are there.  The owner has chosen a simple neutral background with very early Italian antiques which really showcase the spectacular frescoes.  The garden was very simple and understated. 
The portico of the Villa Valmarana

The portico of the Villa Valmarana

The next stop was the Villa Valmarana in Mira.  It was a much smaller villa, but still had an impressive presence from the canal.  Inside the walls were covered with frescoes as well, although a little less spectacular than the ones at Villa Foscari.  Valmarana was furnished beautifully with antique Italian furniture.  The front garden was a beautifully manicured boxwood hedge with a giant topiary yew in the center.  My favorite part was the charming side porch.  Such a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the rose garden beyond.
Charming side porch of the Villa Valmarana in Mira

Charming side porch of the Villa Valmarana in Mira

Side entrance of the Villa Valmarana

Side entrance of the Villa Valmarana

Canal view of the Villa Valmarana

Canal view of the Villa Valmarana

Canal view of the Villa Pisani in Stra

Canal view of the Villa Pisani in Stra

The crown jewel of the Brenta Canal is the Villa Pisani.  It is one of the “newer” villas, but its 114 rooms are sure to impress.  Napoleon I owned this palace at one time, and completely redecorated the interior in the French Empire style.  I would have preferred the original Baroque Italian style, but it was still beautiful.  Some of the original frescoes remained, as did a few of the original Murano glass and carved wooden chandeliers.  Most of the original furnishings and chandeliers have been stolen over the years.  Outside, there was a lovely garden with a long canal that led to a gigantic “facade” that appeared to be another villa in the distance.  Also on the property was what has to be one of the most amazing boxwood labrinths on the planet; in the center of which rises a large stone column surrounded with a spiral stair where you can study the maze to find your way back out. 
Garden of Villa Pisani

Garden of Villa Pisani

The canal at Villa Pisani in the garden

The canal at Villa Pisani in the garden