Villas and historic gardens

Catajo Castle

Via Catajo 1, Battaglia Terme

Catajo Castle was built by marquis Pio Enea degli Obizzi in c. 1570-1573. This grand complex is a cross between a military fortress and a princely palace. Pio Enea II (1592-1674) made some alterations, replacing the stables with a theatre (later turned into a neo-Gothic church) and creating a grotto complete with Elephant Fountain. The great artist G. B. Zelotti covered the walls of the state rooms with frescoes depicting scenes showing the glorious exploits of the family and, in 1768, Tommaso degli Obizzi decorated the entire site with archaeological artefacts and stone furnishings. Catajo Castle then became the property of the archdukes of Austria-Este and the Dukes of Modena who used it as a hunting lodge and country retreat. Having become the property of the Habsburgs and then of the Italian state at the end of the First World War, ownership of Catajo Castle passed to the Dalla Francesca family in 1929. This grand site is surrounded by two splendid gardens: the Garden of Delights and, within its grounds, the great Giants’ Courtyard, once used for holding tournaments.

General information: Catajo Castle’s website

 

Villa Emo Cortuso Maldura, Rivella locality

Via Rivella 4, Monselice, Rivella locality

Among the most important residences attributed to Vincenzo Scamozzi, Villa Emo Capodilista (now known as Maldura) was built in the late 1500s on the edge of the Bisatto canal, on the outskirts of Monselice, towards Padua. The architecture is in high Palladian style, particularly the front colonnade and the geometric design of the garden in front of it. It combines typically Venetian/renaissance features such as hornbeam woods, a walled orchard and fish ponds with an extraordinary number and variety of roses and other flowers. The current appearance of the enchanting Italian garden is the work of its owner, Countess Giuseppina Emo, who decided to include traditional aspects of Venetian renaissance gardens such as hornbeam woods, the walled orchard and roses. During the restoration of the gardens, two long fish ponds were recreated which now stretch on either side of the villa and have been restored to their original splendour, surrounded by irises and water arums and full of water lilies. Two tanks mark the edge of the garden in front of the villa, while the back is decorated with rose gardens, magnolias and hornbeams.

General information: official site

 

Villa Selvatico Sartori

Viale S. Elena - Battaglia Terme

The grand complex of Villa Selvatico – begun in 1593, commissioned by Bartolomeo Selvatico and completed in 1650 – features a unique architectural style that pre-empts the canons of Veneto baroque, with an original fusion of medieval and oriental architectural elements. Those who visit the richly decorated and frescoed Salone Nobile can stop to admire the frescoes of Luca Ferrari da Reggio (1650) and, in the centre, an octagonal painting by Alessandro Varotari, also known as il Padovanino, which celebrates the splendour of the Selvatico family. An impressive staircase leads from the large terrace to the majestic nineteenth-century gardens and the ever-present water feature, both designed by Giuseppe Jappelli. The five geothermal ponds that can be crossed on small rowing boats, with majestic centuries-old trees in the background, are particularly appealing.

 

The historic Garden of Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani

Via G. Barbarigo 15, Galzignano Terme, Valsanzibio locality

The Sant'Eusebio valley, named after the monastery on Colle Orbieso, and the hills that surround it were once the property of the Scrovegni, then the Contarini and – from the late 1500s to 1700 – of the Barbarigo family. The historic garden of Villa Barbarigo was created in the second half of the 1600s by the noble Venetian Antonio Barbarigo, the brother of St Gregory Barbarigo, and it is certainly one of the most important Italian gardens in existence, both due to its size (approximately 150,000 square metres featuring over 800 trees and 126 different species) and its architectural style. It is symmetrically laid out and has two main axes. Diana’s Pavilion, the original entrance, leads to four fish ponds, 16 fountains, 70 statues and three water follies. The famous old box hedge labyrinth is over 1,500 metres long, and the fine statues depicting allegorical and mythological figures, water features and architectural decorations are equally famous. The series of highly symbolic areas and episodes make the garden the ideal place for elevated thought and contemplation, and not simply a pleasant place to pass the time for its lord and his guests. The credit for the preservation of the historic garden is due to the Barbarigo family and their successors (the noble Michiel family, the counts of Martinengo and the counts of Donà delle Rose). The villa and its gardens have been the property of the counts of Pizzoni-Ardemani since 1929.

Useful information: sito ufficiale

 

Villa Vescovi

Torreglia, Luvigliano locality

Villa dei Vescovi dates from the sixteenth century and was built by Falconetto and Andrea della Valle. It is a grand building featuring a square layout enlivened by spectacular staircases. The interior is decorated with sixteenth-century frescoes by Lambert Sustris.

The property is currently owned by the FAI (Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano, Italy’s National Trust), which opened the villa to the public in July 2011.

Useful information: Villa Vescovi on the FAI website 

 

Villa Italia (Lispida Castle)

Via IV Novembre 4, Monselice, Lispida locality

Lispida Castle was built on the remains of an Augustinian monastery founded in the twelfth century. In 1150, Pope Eugene III confirmed that the hill and a church dedicated to St Mary of Ispida belonged to the monastic order of St Augustine. In 1792, monastic life in Lispida ended. The counts of Corinaldi built a villa on the remains of the monastery and began a grape-growing and wine-making industry. The cellars, carved into the hill’s rock to a depth of around two kilometres, are the biggest historic wine cellars in the Veneto region. During the First World War, King Victor Emmanuel III’s headquarters were located there, hence the name the property acquired of ‘Villa Italia’. The site became the property of the Sgaravatti family in 1926. After a few decades of inactivity, wine production resumed in the late 1950s with the installation of new vines and wine-making programmes based on traditional production methods. The hillside footpaths that skirt round the woods lead to lake Lispida, one of two natural geothermal lakes in the Euganean Hills. The lake’s geothermal mud is a precious and unique resource that allows Euganean spas to stand out from other therapeutic establishments.

Useful information: official site

 

The Park of Villa Papafava, Frassenelle

The private park on the Frassenelle estate, owned by the counts of Papafava Antonini Carraresi since the thirteenth century, was designed in 1860 and covers no less than 120 hectares (296 acres) of rolling hills and green lawns, including the famous Frassanelle golf course in its grounds as well. It is a rare example when it comes to parks in the Veneto region, as it is a unified area free from the interruption or intrusion of public roads.

The park’s layout is the work of Alberto Papafava (1832-1929), a Romantic painter who was particularly fond of nature. When redesigning the Frassanelle property, he created his idea of the perfect landscape, painting on the land around him rather than on a canvas. He reclaimed part of the swampy valley south of the villa and had a three-hectare lake dug there, with a complex shape that would seem entirely natural. Today, this lake is part of the golf course. The parkland that surrounds Frassanelle rewards visitors with unique nature trails and stunning walks that wind along paths and garden features: a grotto, a bamboo thicket, a ravine and a neo-Classical temple. 

Useful information: official site

 

Villa Mantua Benavides

Via Chiesa, Valle San Giorgio (Baone)

Villa Mantua Benavides was built in the late 1500s by the heirs of the most illustrious member of the Spanish family of that name: Marco Mantua Benavides (1489-1582). In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this stately home became the country retreat of this Spanish aristocratic family and its guests. In 1762 the Mantua Benavides family died out and the villa was rented as a rectory by Bishop Giustiniani, tying the fate of the building with that of the parish. In the early 1800s, after various vicissitudes, the villa became the property of the borough council. Large-scale renovation work on the main floor in 1964 restored the lustre that Villa Mantua Benavides had lost over time due to neglect.

Useful information: the villa’s webpage on Baone borough council’s website