A tribute to Anna, my mother in law: Piazzola sul Brenta, a comune in the province of Padua (Veneto region) and her home town.
Anna and her family moved to Padova when she was only 3 years old. From that day on and for many years she used to go back to Piazzola to visit her grandparents. Of that period she cherishes memories related to nature, animals, the smell of fresh produce, the freshly drawn milk and climbing the trees to enjoy the taste of a ripe fruit. A reality she borrowed for some time but to which she didn’t truly belong to anymore.
This is her testimony: “The Palazzo has no fireplace, with the exception of the ballroom, and this is because the family would go there in summer for the holidays.
Something that really caught my eyes is the timpani where the orchestra used to play, it has a special sound effect similar to the modern hi fi. Another curiosity about the building is the prospective of its rooms (an optical effect that incapsulates the rooms one inside another infinite times).”
Anna also admits “I am very proud of my origins and twice a year I return to see my home town with much pleasure. The street that leads to the Palazzo is a two kilometer boulevard of secular magnolia trees that opens into the gorgeous piazza in front of the Palazzo…it leaves me breathless no matter how many times I retrace it.”
About Villa Contarini
Located about 45 km west of Venice and about 15 km northwest of Padua, the main sights of Piazzola sul Brenta are: Villa Paccagnella, tempietto (small temple) of San Benigno and the famous Villa Contarini.
The Villa stands on the ruins of an ancient castle built by the Dente family around the year 1000.The territory belonged to the city of Venice up until 1268. Later it became a property of the Carraresi family, who were the rulers of Padua, and was then inherited by a member of the Contarini family in 1413. The Villa was a farmhouse up until the mid-17th century: Marco Contarini, Procurator of St Mark, expanded the building making it a palace and an extremely picturesque place. After a long period of neglect, the Camerini family bought the estate, and brought it back to its old splendour, decorating it following the eclectic 19th century style. Subsequently the Villa went through a new period of neglect until the mid-20th century, when it was purchased by Professor G.E. Ghirardi. Since 2005 the Villa has been a property of the region of Veneto, which is currently working at its development and enhancement.
Today Piazzola sul Brenta has a secondary economic role in the Veneto region but is still an important place for concerts and events and on the third Sunday of each month it hosts the most important antiques market in Italy.
With its 180 meters of length Villa Contarini is one of the largest and most beautiful Villas in Veneto. It is considered one of the most important artistic sights in the territory owing to its architectural features, as well as to the characteristic landscape surrounding it.
About its park
The fish ponds (laghetti) are one of the most ancient and evocative elements of the park. In the 17th century they were the ideal background for banquets and parties.
Some huge masks and ruins of statues are placed on the two sides of the fish pond path.
The ice-house (ghiacciaia): between the fish pond and the lake there is an artificial hill. It houses something that characterized all parks in the past: an ice-house. The ice-house probably dates back to the 17th century and along with its practical function, that is to store and keep ice during the warm season, it also had a “landscape” function, giving the chance to create a path and a belvedere on the top.
The lake (lago) was the place dedicated to boat trips, games and relaxing moments near the chalet (13th century). Some old pictures show elegant gentlemen ice-skating on the frozen surface of the lake.
The paths (viali): After leaving the lake, visitors can walk east, down the poplar-lined path that goes down the edge of the park. The rows of trees mainly consist of black poplars (Populus nigra). Other trees that can be found here are: horse-chestnuts, black locust trees and lime trees.
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