The history and the creator
Overlooking the piazza is the magnificent Pisani palace, built perhaps in the 14th century on the ruins of an ancient fortress. Noteworthy is the vast garden that lays behind the palace.
Mongraph of Vescovana, 1976
In 1606 the history of Cittadella mentions the beautiful villa of Vescovana, but not the garden.
There is no mention of it until 1661: a "state of tithe" describes "barren ground and fields".
A century later in the "Journal of Vescovana from 1782 to 1810" the garden is mentioned again, barren with potted flowers and citrus trees. In 1811, the land register of Napoleon describes similar conditions.
Only in 1852, when Evelina van Millingen
took up residence at Vescovana, did the transformation of the garden begin.
She lifted this sense of abandonment and created an atmosphere of aristocratic informality for the "Doge's Farm"
, leading to the formation of the garden.
Born in 1831 in Pera
, an ancient residential suburb or Constantinople home of the Venetian "bailo" palace,
Teresa Evelina Berengaria van Millingen was the daughter of Julius, an English doctor with Dutch origins,
known for having cured and treated Lord Byron in Missolungi, and of a young French woman raised
in the harem of the Great Sultan of the Turks in Topkapi.
As a striking young girl, she was sent to her grandmother in Rome to be receive a good education; later returned to Istanbul, to leave again for a trip to Venice.
Her appearance in oriental dress at the Fenice Theatre
brought much admiration, and opened the doors to the Venetian nobility.
In 1852 Evelina married Almoro III Pisani
, last descendant of the Santo Stefano Pisani family, and divided her life between the Villa Pisani in Vescovana, where she normally lived, and the Barbaro Palace in Venice, where she resided on the first floor.
The Venetian living room of the Curtis family, wealthy Americans that had purchased the second floor of the historical Barbaro Palace, became the base for intellectuals
, Anglo-american artists and royal visitors. Here Evelina met illustrious people who later came and stayed at the Villa in Vescovana.
Among these was Henry James, who often visited the Curtis family and was moved by the Countess Pisani, so much so as to describe her as "...a most remarkable woman, a lady that brings to mind Caterina Cornaro and makes the romantic heroines of Disraeli and Bulwer credible."
The Queen of Sweden, The Empress of Germany
, Frederica, daughter of Queen Victoria, the poet Robert Browning, and Lord Byron
were guests of Evelina in Vescovana, where she had begun to spend more and more time.
Among the many scholars and intellectuals that stayed at Villa Pisani was Margaret Symonds
, daughter of
John Addington Symonds (author of History of the Renaissance in Italy), a young and romantic English writer
that after having experienced the aristocratic informality of the Doge's farm, wrote the book "Days Spent
on a Doge's Farm"
, an account of her time spent at the villa.
This young guest's book
, published in London in 1883, is the evidence of all the love and dedication that
the refined Evelina put into the construction of the impressive garden and park.
Margaret Symonds described it as "the fruit of the strong English instinct of the Countess Evelina, and of
her need for flowers and shade, there where she had found only barren acres exposed to the sun"
That land little by little became a unique creation of English taste, a new world of green and of colors
around the walls.
As a good Englishwoman and lover of country life, Evelina transformed this flat and sun-ravaged expanse
into a splendid garden.
This modern and skilled entrepreneur dedicated herself to better the condition of
, sole remaining source of income for the family after its disastrous financial state between
the end of the 1700s and the beginning of the 1800's, that lead to the sale of the impressive villa in
Personally involved in the country farm, she dedicated herself to the improvement of the
townspeople's conditions, showing firmness, precision and avant-garde humanity.
As described by Henry James
, who admired her while she sped by on the carriage she herself drove among the
farms, in her sumptuous oriental clothes, Evelina was a true romantic heroine and lone soul of the farm