Naviglio connecting Venice to Padua
The Brenta River is developed from Fusina to Padua along the “Naviglio Brenta”, where, in the past, flowed the old river Brenta. The Government of the Serenissima diverted its course in order to hinder the burial of the lagoon caused by its sediments.
This area started to become famous since the fifteenth century onwards when the Government of the Republic began an expansionist policy towards the hinterland. Since then, with the crisis of trade routes, the Venetian nobility began to invest their funds by buying lands and by building upper-class country houses for their holidays. The greatest period came during the 1700s with the construction of the most beautiful, luxurious and impressive villas.
The choice of the area was not at random, in fact, the Naviglio has always been a convenient way to trade that allowed boats (the famous burchi and peati) to transport the goods that came from Venice (spices, oils, glass, and books) to return then full of hay, vegetables, wine, and meat.
Consequently, the river allowed the direct transfer of the aristocratic class from their palaces along with their royal court to the residential areas. Mira, Dolo, and Strà are the villages that developed and thrived around this system. Dolo has maintained its unchanged appearance over time. Observing its particular historical center with its squero (square) and mill seems the view of a Canaletto’s painting of the 1700s.
Unspoiled areas of Brenta river
The Venetian villa is the natural evolution of two types of houses: the castle and the early lagoon settlement’s houses. The castles lost their original importance of defensive structure with the introduction of gunpowder, which messed up the existence of their walls. Their location in beautiful landscapes, however, allowed their transformation into a peaceful use.
The first villas of the fifteenth century are very simple and devoided of fine arts but slightly enriched in order to be distinguished from the peasants’ poor houses. Is houseplant resembles the typical Venice houses made up of entry with a central hall with squared rooms on either side. This kind of plan remained unchanged over time.
With the years, despite the unchanged houseplant, the upper class began to build ever more impressive and luxurious villas with facades rich in loggias, terraces, and large stairs. Famous architects such as Palladio, Scamozzi, and Longhena as well as painters such as Tiepolo and Giannantonio Pellegrini worked hard to make them look like royal palaces.
Covered by plants, houses were surrounded by walls with inside beautiful gardens where the upper class, with their huge amount of guests, spent their holidays in privacy and relax.
Lavish parties, concerts, and plays were constantly held in the city palaces as well as in villas in order to give prestige to the family’s name. Proof confirmation of this lifestyle emerged from Goldoni’s plays who managed to transmit a perfect situation of that era.
The 1700s was a period of prosperity, but also the beginning of a decline. In this century, the most beautiful villas were built such as Villa Pisani located in Strà that, for the size and beauty of its building and park, is considered to be a Royal Palace.
In 1797, with the fall of the Venetian Republic, the Brenta River began a period of a gradual decline, sometimes with the desertion and destruction of its beautiful dwellings. Only in recent years, and thanks to the public and private support, a recovery of the ancient structures began in order to bring them back to their original glory and joy of the countless tourists that every year visit it.