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History of the Brenta Riviera

The villas were first built on the Riviera in the 15th century, when the territories of Venice were extended onto the mainland. Growing difficulties in trading with the East and the discovery of America led the Venetians to invest their capital in large estates. The beauty of the Brenta landscape, the fertility of the soil and the easy access to the area by boat all drew the attention of the Patricians down the river Brenta. The estates were set to crop, and in the area alongside the river elegant houses were built to allow the landowners to control their investments close at hand, and to allow the families to enjoy their holidays during the best months of the year.

The villas became evermore refined, and as early as the 1500s gems were built such as villa Foscari at Malcontenta, designed by Palladio, or villa Soranzo at Fiesso, with its external frescoes painted by Paolo Veronese's brother. In the following century the steps along the banks multiplied, as more and more gardens were completed and inhabited by baroque busts and decorations, like the one at villa Morosini, in Mirano.

In the eighteenth century, spaces became wider, using clever plays on perspective, and this century saw the triumph of villa Pisani at Stra, a true duke's palace on the mainland. Italian art lovers can find a wealth of opportunity along the Brenta Riviera. The different styles of villa architecture are outstanding, varying from 16th century austerity to the free- running imaginative styles of the 17th century, and the more rational buildings of the 18th century.

And we must not forget the churches, with their rich collections of precious paintings, nor the simple but highly interesting examples of lesser architecture. And the villa interiors, which hide entire cycles of painting history.

The mythological tales depicted by Zelotti at villa Foscari at Malcontenta, or by B. De Pitati at Villa Querini at Mira Porte. The frescoed glories of the noble families painted by Angeli at villa Widmann, or by Tiepolo at villa Pisani at Stra. The list could go on, mentioning the wooden statues of Brustolon, the Sansovinian altars, the sculpted marble in the parks at Bonazza, the Callido organs, the antique furniture that can still be found today in the villas and antique shops: there is always something to discover along the Brenta Riviera.

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