The Venetian Villas, located between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, were built at the time of the Serenissima Republic of Venice as important places for economic and cultural activities in the mainland, for trade and exchanges but also simply for the desire to get closer to the countryside and to the plain. They are places with a strong emotional impact as they evoke the ways of life of those who made them realize and who lived there, often used as places to spend their summer holidays, for parties but also for humanistic and business conferences.
The moment of greatest splendor was in the sixteenth century (after the first decade, after the Cambrai war), when there was a boom in the construction of Venetian villas due to the unstoppable nostalgia of the lagoon patricians to move to the mainland for short periods. Initially, the Venetian villas were simple adaptations to pre-existing castles but these were soon replaced by new buildings, especially along the Brenta and Sile rivers; these two rivers, in fact, represented the most used natural routes to move from the lagoon to the countryside, up to the hills of Treviso, Padua and Vicenza.
In the following three centuries, the Venetian noble families increased their desire for expansion in the plains more and more to the point that each new Venetian palace corresponded to at least one palace on the mainland. They went to the Euganean and Berici Hills, to those of Conegliano, the Veronese hills and the shores of Lake Garda; the construction of these enormous and sumptuous buildings meant a distinctive sign of dominion over the land, previously reduced to mere cultivation. Many nobles also contributed to rehabilitating and tilling uncultivated and unused areas; in particular, we remember Alvise Cornaro who reclaimed the Paduan hills.
The wise and capable Venetian merchants developed the residence with an eye always to the economy, creating the barchessa area dedicated to rural use with a development comparable to that of the main building used as a dwelling. As Palladio recalls, the Venetian villas were always built with the stables, the granaries, the houses of the farmer and the servants next to the main residence. The bathrooms were often non-existent and the kitchens were located on the ground floor, under the opulent ballrooms and staterooms.
One thing the wealthy Venetians never forgot: their existence depended on the fruits of the countryside, not surprisingly, with the fall of the Republic and the cession of land by the owners, even their houses suffered a progressive deterioration.
Currently, some villas are cared for by grandchildren in love with the residence desired by their ancestors, others have decayed but most of them are abandoned and collapsing; thanks to the recovery and restoration activities of the Regional Institute for Veneto Villas (formerly an organization), efforts are being made to protect this cultural heritage which otherwise risks being lost forever.