The Riviera del Brenta Villas:
a classic Veneto villas tour
by boat

The boat tour of the riviera del Brenta villas is a classic way to discover from a different perspective some of the most beautiful villas of Veneto, Italy.

All you have to do is jump on a boat along the Brenta river - in the countryside between Venice and Padua - where many Venetian aristocrats and wealthy merchants since the 16th century built their luxurious summer estates - over 40 just along the Brenta Riviera - in search of relax, away from the bustle of Venice.

Burchielli were called the comfortable boats they used to move to their holiday villas, sailing along the Brenta river: the trips by the were joyful, often brightened up by comedians and musicians.
There are different itineraries proposals, either full or half day, offered by different companies. Booking is required for a boat trip to the Riviera del Brenta villas: you can book here in the official website made by different companies forming a consortium - that offer this service.

Riviera del Brenta villas: Villa Foscari (la Malcontenta)

It is the only villa located along the Brenta riviera which was designed by the famous architect Andrea Palladio.

This old mansion, inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage List, reminds of another celebre Palladian villa, i.e. La Rotonda in Vicenza.
They both represent sort of villa- temples, both rectangular shaped and featuring wide porticoes with columns in their facades. However, unlike La Rotonda , Villa Foscari has columns only in its main facade, just the one facing the river.

Villa Foscari was built in 1555, commissioned to Palladio by the brothers Foscari, who belonged to one of the most prestigious Venetian families.
The villa – quickly reachable by boat from Venice- was used just for residential and holiday purposes: for this reason there are no barchesse, i.e. the lateral buildings typical of most ancient villas of Veneto, used as stables and farm tools shelter.
In its interior the mansion boasts magnificent frescoes.

The nickname La Malcontenta, which means unhappy, stems from a legend according to which Elisa, the wife of one of the Foscari brothers, was locked for 30 years inside the villa for punishment after committing adultery.
Of course it’s only a legend, probably not a true story.
According to another story the name comes from the inhabitants of the area being unhappy due to the numerous floods which would hit the area, that were caused by a river diversion planned by the Republic of Venice.

Out of curiosity: nowadays the villa has no electric light yet, at the express wish of the owners, just in order to preserve its ancient ambiance.

Architect: Andrea Palladio

Opening time:

from May 1st to October 31st
from 9pm to noon (booking required onlyto visit in a different period of the year)
Closed on Monday

ph. 041 –54 700 12 (for booking)

Address: via dei Turisti 9, Mira (Venice)

Riviera del Brenta villas: Barchesse di Villa Valmarana

In the most suggesting and scenic bend of the river Brenta, just in front of Villa Foscari on the opposite side of the river, lie two barchesse - i.e. the lateral buildings typical of the ancient Veneto villas, used as stables and farm equipment shelters, and as guesthouses.

It is what is left of a majestic villa, as unfortunately the 1500’s manor house was purposely demolished by the owners in the late 1800’s, to avoid the heavy tax charges due for luxurious homes...
Valmarana was the name of the Venetian family which owned the villa during the 1700’s.

The barchessa used to lodge the farm tools is not open to visitors, unlike the other one, which was used as a guesthouse, still decorated with frescoes and embellished with the original antique furnishing.
The two buildings are surrounded by a suggesting park and an Italianate garden.

Opening time: from March through October
10am – 6pm

Address: via Valmarana 11, Mira (Venezia).

Riviera del Brenta villas: villa Pisani La Barbariga

This splendid villa was commissioned by the aristocratic Pisani family and built in the very early 1600’s.
The facade towards the river looks more basic compared to the one facing the park in the back, which instead boasts fine porticoes.
The lateral buildings, or barchesse were added in the late 1700’s.
Behind the building there is a big and romantic English garden, embellished with a clock tower.
The interior is furnished with pieces of period furniture and decorated with a series of polychrome plasters.

The aristocrats who lived in this villa used to go hunting: hence the marble statues in the park depicting hounds and hunters.

Address: via Barbariga 45, Stra (Venice)

Closed to visitors, just the exterior can be seen.

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