Once upon a time there was a great architect, whose name was Andrea Palladio. He loved doing special things and so it built magnificent villas (and other kind of buildings) through the Venetian region and especially in the Province of Vicenza. Palladio architecture inspired the whole world (see for example some of the features of the White House in the USA) till it became a real style called Palladianism.
Today I’m visiting (well for the 2nd or 3rd time) the wonderful Villa Caldogno, just about 15 minutes far from Vicenza, in the town of Caldogno.
As it often happened at that time ( the villa was probably ultimate in 1570 as a writing in the main facade witnesses) a noble family commissioned the domus to the architect who was in vogue at that period. Even if not contained in the Four Books of Architecture (a sort of compendium of Palladio’s art) the villa is considered by critics a work of Palladio.
From 1996 Villa Caldogno together with other 23 Venetian Villas is part of the Unesco Heritage sites. There is a special connection between the villas and the Venetian territory: a unique relationship which conveys a universally recognized value to them.
The basement of Villa Caldogno
It probably sounds strange. Today visit will start from the villa basement. Here you will find the unexpected. Look at the details and you will understand a lot of this villa history. For example some visible traces on the wall suggest that the villa existed before Palladio’s intervention. Palladio built his villa on a previous building which can be dated to the Middle Ages.
I walk along the small rooms which follow another. It’s silence around me, when my attention is suddenly captured. In the heart of this basement there is a perfectly maintained canalization system for domestic water. The water of a ditch underlying the villa was channeled and controlled by a clever system of sluices before running off in a big tank.
Villa Caldogno: the halls
Leaving the monochrome basement behind it’s now time to visit the upper part of the Villa. A singular polygonal flight of steps brings me to the Loggia first and then to the Main Hall together with the closest small rooms. The three arches in the main facade are proposed again in the wall separating the Loggia and the Main Hall. Two steps and then I remain open mouthed! WOWWWW! Amazing I think! The villa is fully decorated with sparkling colors which convey an idea of joy and fun.
And this is not by chance! The function of the villas of this period was not a difensive one. This kind of building had a residential use and a recreational one. The whealty Family Caldogno asked to the most well known artists of that time Giovanni Fasolo, Giovanni Battista Zelotti (you can see their paintings also in the Castle Porto- Colleoni-Thiene ) and Giulio Carpioni to decorate the walls of the Villa. In the Main Hall a illusionistically drawn loggia is sustained by 12 telamons. Under this “loggia” some painting represents scenes of fun: The Card Game, The Invitation to Dance, The Concert and the Break.
Outside the villa
To complete the visit of this wonderful Dimora you should not quit to see the amazing garden all around it. Approximately 10,000 square metres were you will also find the colonnade and dovecote dated to the 17th century.
And it’s not all! Behind the colonnade a more recent building blends into the green grass. It’s the Bunker, a facility build during the Word War Second when the whole Caldogno Villa was occupied by the German soldiers. At 6 metres of depth halls and small rooms hosted wounded and sick people. Nowadays the structure has been restored and its space dedicated to artistic and cultural activities.
- From March to November you can visit Villa Caldogno on Saturday (9-12 a.m/15-18 a.m) and on Sunday (9-12)
- Visits are available on Thursday/ Friday (9-12 a.m) upon reservation
- Some leaflets in English are available at the ticket desk, anyway it would be recommended to reserve a guide for a more complete tour.
credits: ph Villa Caldogno