The Villa

Brief notes

Cunizza, Marquise d’Este, Cardinal Francesco Pisani and Countess Evelina van Millingen are the protagonists of the history of Villa Pisani, from an ancient medieval court to a sumptuous Renaissance palace and the refined cultural salon of the 19th century.

This important history, which began around the year 1000, reached its peak during the 1800s, when Evelina’s ‘beautiful fairytale’ began. A miracle of culture and love of nature, tenaciously desired and realised, and now restored and defended by the current owner.

The villa was erected in the first half of the 16th century on the commission of Cardinal Francesco Pisani, a Venetian patrician and Bishop of Padua, as the administrative seat of the landed estates acquired by the family in 1478 in the Bassa Padovana area.

Following the shift of the family’s economic-financial interests to the mainland, the noble Venetian patrician commissioned Andrea Palladio and the major architects and painters of the time to build and decorate numerous villas and palaces in the area, including the palaces of Montagnana and Monselice.

The Villa: Architectural notes

The villa has a central body elongated by the porticoed barchesse, the dovecote and the stables. The distinguished patron, the Cardinal, wanted it large and splendidly frescoed, in the tradition of the Pisanis, connoisseurs of art and beauty. On the north facade, a low flight of steps flanked by statues leads to the interior, while the south facade underwent major alterations in the 19th century.

The large staircase supported by balustrade columns was removed during the renovation of the garden, to make way for a large belvedere terrace on the first floor, intended to admire the garden from above, as desired by the author, Evelina van Millingen Pisani, who had designed it with this in mind. A splendid vine pergola shades the sunny façade, delimits the space in front of the villa and leads to the garden separated by the ancient balustrades.

A place steeped in history

South of Padua stretches an immense plain, bordered by the Euganean Hills, the sea, and rivers. “A land of water and a sea of fertile soil” that fascinated the poet Schelley, “A special heath, quiet and sunny, a green expanse”.

Here, surrounded by a splendid garden, stands GROMBOOLIA , the Villa of the Doge Pisani, so renamed by Countess Evelyn van Millingen Pisani, wife of Almorò the 3rd, in honour of the imaginary kingdom dreamt up by Edward Lear. This is Evelyn’s little paradise on earth, whose spirit still pervades and magnifies the mansion, conveying strong feelings in the perception of a special atmosphere.

Read the history

The Villa : The Garden

It is natural that the strong English instincts of the new Contessa should have made her shudder at the general sunbaked and unsoftened aspect of this huge farm-house, or villa, which was to be her home. Yet she saw that there was a beauty in the scene, quite apart from the bareness and breadth of sky, namely, a glorious fertile soil. There were lilies in the ditches, water-flags and rushes, but so few flowers in the fields, and she needed, as English women do, and shade-above all things, shade-then the roses would grow and the birds would come. Also, a beautiful house must hold beautiful things. Gradually a new and growing world of green and coloured things arose round the bare walls.

From “Days spent on a Doge’s farm” by Margaret Symonds

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