|Gian Francesco Costa, Delle delizie del fiume Brenta, Venezia, 1750|
When the Republic of Venice diverted the Brenta River to prevent its sediments from crossing the lagoon, this ancient waterway has always been well-maintained because it was an important waterway for penetrating its traffic inland. From the sixteenth century - when it became certain that the Venetian territory would no longer suffer other wars - the Venetians began to buy and build on the shores of the river houses in “villa” (“villa” in the language of the time meaning “country”) because they could be easily reached from the city with their gondolas.
Among the first villas to be built, the most important is certainly the one built by Andrea Palladio at Malcontenta (located shortly after the gates of the Moransani); for the importance of the family (which in the fifteenth century bore a doge who reigned the Venetian Republic for thirty-four years) and for the beauty of its architecture.
Unfortunately, the imposing and impressive house that was built by Palladio in Dolo for another influential patrician, Leonardo Mocenigo no longer existed. With its demolition, another masterpiece of Renaissance architecture that would have shown how quickly - under the impulse of effective stimulus - patrician settlements have multiplied on the River’s shores.
In many cases, these additional settlements were not so significant in terms of architecture, as those of the Foscari and the Mocenigo. They were mostly homes of modest size. But already in the seventeenth century when a trend began for villa life, for vacationing - alongside these houses were built some barchesses that - instead of being a rural addition, according to the practice introduced by Palladio - contained large rooms, almost always ornamented with decorative frescoes. As proof of this phenomenon, we can see the outbuildings of the Villa Valmarana, the Villa Contarini Venier in Mira (currently the seat of the Regional Institute for Venetian Villas), and the Villa Foscarini Rossi in Stra.
To repeat these important settlements on the Riviera shores is the imposing residence - almost a palace - built b the noble family Pisani at Stra, which came to form in the eighteenth century, a building phenomenon so peculiare and significant that has since spread the idea that the waterway, which links Venice to its hinterland, to Padua and beyond, can be regarded as an ideal continuation of the Grand Canal.
Therefore the customs of the “villeggiatura” understood in its original meaning, the Riviera del Brenta (where one can still travel by river boats) has become other than a residential and productive facility, a touristic infrastructure of great importance that ideally links the Euganean Hills to the Laguna, the thermal baths of Abano to the beaches of the Lido, and again, Padua toVenice.
Antonio Foscari, Acque, Terre e Ville, in "Ville Venete: la Provincia di Venezia", I.R.V.V, Marsilio, Venezia 2005, pp. XXX-XLII
Antonio Foscari, Tumult and Order, Lars Mueller Publisher Zurigo, 2011
Antonio Foscari, Tumulto e Ordine, Electa Milano, 2013