Twenty-two historic villas, each one a stepping stone through the High Renaissance, dot the landscape across the Veneto region of northeastern Italy.

All of these “lord of the manor” estates were designed by Andrea Di Pietro della Gondola, better known as Palladio, one of the most influential individuals in the history of western architecture.

Palladio’s work inspired a distinct architectural style known as Palladianism — a neoclassical interpretation of the ancient temples of Greece and Rome — which spread like wildfire around Europe and eventually sailed across The Pond to North America.

Not just an architectural style, Palladianism was a lifestyle, too, enjoyed by the rich and famous of the time who had the means to commission Palladio to build their personal Shangri-La in the meadows and on the hilltops around the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

These 22 venerable villas are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.”

With the aid of my car’s GPS, along with willing curators clutching keys, I plan on photographing as many of these fine examples of Palladian real estate as I can, one front gate at a time.

Don’t look now, but we’ve just pulled up to one such iron portal at 41 Via Castello, the address of Villa Poiana, the patrician estate in Poiana Maggiore in the Province of Vicenza.

Commissioned by Bonifacio Poiana, a member of a centuries-old family of wealthy landowners, Palladio completed the design work in the late 1540s. Construction began in the early 1550s and was finally completed when the paint dried in 1563.

Poiano’s military past is reflected in the austere exterior design and complimented by a series of interior frescoes, some military themed, painted by Bernardino India and Anselmo Canera, with sculptures by Bartolomeo Ridolfi.

According to Palladian experts, the villa remains one of the most curious examples of Palladio’s creative style, especially in the building’s main feature on the facade, an arched window with five circular holes reminiscent of ancient Rome.

I’ve removed the lens cap. What do you say we take a look around this quaint little abode?

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For visitor information on the Villa Poiana, just click HERE. For complete information on all 24 of the UNESCO World Heritage sited Palladian villas of the Veneto, just click HERE.

Join me again next time when I remove the lens cap and frame another Palladian villa. You might even overhear me ask the curator, “Are all utilities included in the monthly rent?”

Ciao for now.

©The Palladian Traveler

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

8 comments

  1. I’m not often speechless, as you know, but a series of blogs on my hero Andrea Palladio is something I will follow with great interest. I look forward to this series immensely. What a great start to 2014! Vicina

    Like

    1. Orna — Unfortunately, not all 22 are officially open to the public, but if there’s a will, there’s a way. Short of breaking-and-entering, I’ll reach out to regional office in charge of all of the villas around the Veneto and see if they can’t open up a few more gates for me, and you, if you’d care to tag along. Buon Anno!

      Like

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