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Famous Demesnes

itinerari

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Like noble chesspieces set out on the green chessboard of Mirano, the sixty or so great country houses of the Veneto are part of a marvellous cultural heritage of architecture, history and art, which in the magic name of Venice, ennobles the whole area. All these demesnes - like the more famous ones not too far away on the Riviera del Brenta - seem quite enchanting swathed in their greenery. Their fragile beauty is entrusted to silent and mysterious custodians, the hundreds of poetic ornamental statues on high pillars or camouflaged in green, bearing on their semi-nude bodies the mould of Time. Built mainly between 1600 and 1700, the patrician villas are grouped around Spinea, Mirano, Campocroce, Zianigo, Santa Maria di Sala, and Noale.
They bear the names of the Houses of the Serenissima like Bembo, Barbarigo, Ca' da Mosto, Giustinian, Grimani, Loredan, Michiel, Mocenigo, and Morosini. In time, the names of new proprietors were added to these. The major villas are an example of the luxury that went hand in hand with the 'fad for the summer holiday residences' and altogether they document the rather prosaic fact that the nobles presided over the agricultural work, storing the fruit of their labours in the granaries and colonnaded annexes: the beautiful and the good, we could say.
Travellers who set out to take pleasure in discovering 'minor' aspects of the Veneto will be drawn to this splendid art heritage. Especially outstanding among them are the xxv Aprile and Belvedere villas at Mirano, open to the local public and visitors from afar attracted by the beauty of the parks and the cultural events. Between the two villas is the Castelletto, a romantic folly built in the 1 9t h century, now open after extensive restoration work. And there is the Mulino di sotto, the lower mill, an example of industrial archaeology that was functioning until the end of the nineteen sixties. At Zianigo, Villa Tiepolo is not only where the family of great painters used to sojourn in summer but where Giandomenico carried out a cycle of frescoes now on view in Ca' Rezzonico in Venice. At Salzano there is the Villa Romanin-Jacur with its park open to the public. At Santa Maria di Sala, Villa Farsetti towers at the bottom of a meadow; it is almost a rococo castle, where festivities and exhibitions are held. At Martellago, on the terrain behind Villa Grimani Morosini there is the renowned Golf Club Ca' della Nave, the only one in the Mirano area. And there are also real castles - like the castle of the Tempesta at Noale, a testimony of the Veneto in medieval times and now a precious architectonic relic; and the castle of Stigliano whose towers were demolished following the War of Cambrai. Today these buildings - once demesnes of powerful families - are part of the public cultural patrimony, and every visitor is considered a guest.