VILLAS ALONG THE BRENTA

brentavillafoscari-1The spread of the aristocratic villas along the course of the Brenta from Malcontenta to Stra was a phenomenon that was a sign of the power of Venice for a couple of centuries between 1500 and 1700.It showed the propensity of its ruling class for the most lavish theatricality even in its moment of decline. So it fell with a blaze of magnificence. The area was not only chosen for its rural amenities althought they were in any case a fund of resources. The river had always been a commercial waterway much frequented by day and even by night with the use of torches and lanterns by ‘great boats, barges and rowed boats, and any kind of wooden craft’ laden to the brim with merchandise. From the mainland there was flour, legumes, gravel, hay, wines, calves and goats, and from Venice spices, cloths, oils, soap, glass, books and fish. A cargo as unusual as it was precious was the water of the Brenta; it was transported in waterlight barges for the Venetians whose fields were of saltwater. Before the Brenta of the villas this was the Brenta of the

wayside inns where ir was possible to sup and lodge for the night, there were posting stations and ‘locks’ as the boats were raised or lowered with the water-level on the way upstream or down. By the end of 1400, to have a villa on the

banks of the river and to enjoy the summer season with friends and relations or Vip strangers was a great status symbol. Renowned architects and famous painters were engaged, from Palladio to Count Fringimelica,

from Scamozzi to Longhena, Zelotti to Giannantonio Pellegrini, Tiepolo, Guarana, and Zais. A countri villa’s visula impact, including its lodges and gardens, had to be strong, indeed it had to strike the visitors and travellers by its

extraordinary artistic and natural beauty harmoniously merging with the architectural features.

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