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History and Estate

francesco_novello_dipinto
Francesco Novello da Carrara, ritratto dell'auditorio

  

 

 maria_da_carrara_dipinto
Maria da Carrara, ritratta dell'auditorio


 

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Francesco Contarini, ritratto dell'auditorio

Villa Contarini – G.E. Ghirardi Foundation, dating back to the XVI century, is located in Piazzola Sul Brenta, only a few kilometers away from Padua and Vicenza.
It is one of many famous examples of patrician residences which contributed in creating the so-called "civilization of the Venetian villa". It is a known fact that such buildings, designed and created by architects of great cultural prominence (let us think of Andrea Palladio, who was involved in the conception of Villa Contarini in Piazzola as well) served many different purposes. They acted as sites of representation, used in particular to celebrate the magnificence of the Serenissima Republic and its noble families: richly decorated settings that hosted house parties as well as intellectual gatherings; but they also acted as outposts for the control of the territory, allowing the development of an initial form of agricultural and industrial entrepreneurship.

The Villa, conceived for the Contarini family, amongst the most famous Venetian families, perfectly matches this type of architecture. The construction year of the "royal palace" of Piazzola, so called for the majesty that places it amongst the biggest residences in Europe, cannot be determined due to the numerous enlargements and later renovations. The main body was built most likely on the foundations of the Da Carrara Castle in 1546 (as the stone to the left of the staircase shows) on a design by great Palladio.

From the start the building had two wings, later transformed.
In the second half of the XVII century, through the action of Marco Contarini , the palace conquered those features of complexity and grandeur that distinguish it.
Inside the central body, one of the most renowned rooms is the Auditorium. Surrounded by a circular balcony, it overlooks through the center the Music Room, also called Room of the "Upside down guitar".

This massive architectural complex is surrounded by a large English landscape park with a lake, fish-ponds and canals, which constitute a rare and peaceful natural reserve for the protection of birdlife.

The Villa reached its maximum splendor around the second half of the XVII century: since then it subsequently passed from the Contarinis to the Giovannelli family, and then to the Correr family, suffering a downgrade from magnificent mansion of representation, to rural property.
In the mid-XIX century it was purchased by the Camerini family, thus undergoing new enlargements and renovations. The Camerinis also operated some changes in the large park surrounding the villa, and placed a bronze Christ of the Waters sculpture by Piedmontese sculptor Leonardo Bistolfi (1859 – 1933) in the island in the center of the lake.
After the Camerinis time was over (1955), the vast complex suffered a new period of abasement, until Prof. Giordano Emilio Ghirardi purchased the property (1969). To his initiative, the Villa and the park were restored: in 1970, after the last period of neglect further to the last world conflict, the "royal palace" of Piazzola, completely renovated, became a center for culture and science, prominent location where to organize symposia, conferences about the most diverse scientific disciplines, together with arts and crafts exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.

In 1970, after a period of neglect dating back to the last world conflict, the "royal palace" of Piazzola, completely renovated, became a center for culture and science, prominent location where to organize symposia, conferences about the most diverse scientific disciplines, together with arts and crafts exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.

In 2005 the entire complex was purchased by the Veneto Region, currently engaged in the fundamental revaluing of this important cultural heritage.
Next to the ordinary activities aiming at promoting the knowledge of the architectural complex, its landscape and their rich decorations through guided tours and educational activities, the effort put into the revaluing of the Villa is to be appreciated not just in seeing it as a museum in itself, but also as an incomparable and contemporary place where to host art exhibitions of local and national interest.