Padua’s Villas

This is an excerpt from the book “Venice and the Veneto


Battaglia – Villa Emo-Selvatico

Villa built on the 16th century, garden planned by Giuseppe Cappelli


Villa Emo-La Montecchia

One of the most fanciful villas of the 16th century.


Villa Contarini

The most important is Villa Contarini, at Piazzola sul Brenta, built in 1546 by Palladio and enlarged in the following centuries. Piazzola sul Brenta is dominated by the imposing scenographic mass of the splendid Villa Contarini.

I Battelli del Brenta

The passenger boat operator “ I Battelli del Brenta” (The boats of the Brenta Canal) provide enjoyable guided public cruises, from Venice to Padua or vice-versa, along the Brenta Canal (Riviera del Brenta), visiting some of the Venetian Villas, summer residences of the 16th century, with stops at the monumental palaces with its legendary frescoes.

Once along this waterway sailed the “burchielli”, boats that carried the Venetian nobleman; nowadays all the boats that cruise along the Brenta Canal are called “burchielli”.

The company “I Battelli del Brenta” has many boats carrying from 70 to 135 passengers and romantic “Burci”, restored wooden old barges.

Villa Pisani
Villa Pisani

Brenta’s Riviera Villas

The Brenta Riviera is made up of districts and green spots along the ancient course of a river linking Padua to Venice. This was the ideal extension of Venice onto the mainland, almost a continuation of the lagoon city: between the 16th and 18th centuries the Brenta Riviera experienced a golden age which turned it into a privileged holiday resort for rich Venetian nobles.

They built dozens and dozens of villas along its riverbanks, designed and decorated by masters of Italian art, visited by artists, popes, kings and men of culture, envied for their beauty, inhabited as country seats where they celebrated with ritual floating processions, sumptuous dinners and festivities lasting until dawn. Buildings of the villas along the Riviera began in the 15th century, when Venice extended its dominion over the mainland.

Villa Foscari at the Malcontenta in Mira Photo © shemale
Villa Foscari at the Malcontenta in Mira Photo © shemale

Already by the 16th century, there were gems such as villa Foscari at Malcontenta, designed by Palladio, or villa Soranzo at Fiesso with its outside frescoed by Paolo Veronese’s brother. In the subsequent century, the flights steps down onto the water’s edge increased, gardens were peopled with busts and baroque decorations such as in villa Morosini in Mirano and villa Sagredo in Vigonovo.

In the 18th century these spaces were expanded through ingenious perspectives creating triumphs such as villa Widmann at Mira Porte and villa Pisani at Stra, a genuine Doge’s palace on dry land.Lovers of Italian art forms can find an infinite number of attractions on the Brenta Riviera. The architecture of the villas is remarkable for the variety of styles which go from the 16th-century austerity to the unleashed fantasies of the 17th century, then on to the rational style of the 18th century. It is also worth recalling the churches with their wealth of precious paintings and the simple but interesting examples of lesser architecture. Inside the villas there are whole cycles of paintings.

From March to October, the stately homes are best admired from the water’s edge; the opportunity is provided by the Burchiello, the legendary boat mentioned by Goldoni which daily links Padua to Venice, stopping off to enable visits to the most beautiful villas on the Riviera.

Food and Wine of the Brenta Riviera

Brenta Riviera cuisine is a feature of International gastronomical guide books for the professional talent acquired in preparing fish. Lying behind the Venetian lagoon and the “white fish” breading areas of the river deltas, Brenta gastronomy is the heir of a refined tradition which has succeeded in conjugating antique local recipes with a centuries-old experience of the nobles cuisine.

There are hot and cold hors d’oeuvres for the most refined of palates, first courses born from the happy combination of aromatic herbs and peak quality fish, mixed fries and grills which simply emphasize the absolute freshness of the products.
Courtesy of ENIT USA Official Tourist Board

Where to stay in Padova

There are hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check it out and make a reservation here.