Andrea Palladio is widely considered the finest Western architect of the 16th century. Northern Italy is dotted with his villas and palaces, showcasing a style that went on to influence design both within and outside Italy.
Tours of Northern Italy visit many of his works, including churches in Venice and villas in Veneto. His work even created a new adjective, as referenced by UNESCO and entry 712 on the World Heritage list: City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.
What many people don’t know is that instead of touring the sites, it’s possible to sleep inside Palladio’s buildings, inside the World Heritage Site.
The best of these is La Barchessa di Villa Pisani, a glorious 17-room hotel located close to Vicenza, between Verona and Venice. Here Palladio’s grandeur fills every room, amid a relaxed and informal atmosphere. Natassja Leoni from La Barchessa di Villa Pisani explains more about the history.
“The term villa was used to describe a country house. In most cases the owners named their palazzi and villas with the family surname as in this case, since Pisani is the name of the important Venetian family who commissioned the project. At that time the families held economic and political power and were great scholars of philosophy and art lovers. The signs of Classicism re-assumed an entire system of anthropological, ethical and aesthetic values, based on the knowledge inherited from the Greeks and the Romans and discovered by the humanists.”
Taking the Roman Renaissance style to Northern Italy, Palladio added his own take on symmetry, along with hints of Mannerism and his signature, the use of Greco-Roman temple features in vernacular buildings. It was ancient Rome, but also Renaissance Rome. It was Palladian, a style imitated across the west for another four centuries.
La Barchessa di Villa Pisani has been under the ownership of contemporary artist Manuela Bedeschi and her husband Carlo Bonetti for more than 20 years. While retaining the 16th-century atmosphere, the Relais also expresses Bedeschi’s distinct art and style.
The word Barchessa stands for a farm construction featuring large arched porticoes previously aimed to agricultural functions. Today it comes back to life in the XXI century after a careful restoration and a whole renovation, by Mrs Manuela Bedeschi & Mr Carlo Bonetti. Manuela Bedeschi was born in Vicenza and lives between Vicenza, Verona and Bagnolo di Lonigo (inside Villa Pisani). Her art is specialised in sculpture and painting, but she also works with led lights. Famous is the masterpiece “Casa” which represents the mission of La Barchessa di Villa Pisani. Inside Villa Pisani and in its park, she normally organizes didactic visits, cultural appointments and art exhibitions.Natassja Leoni
Unbeknown to many, Palladio was the first to bring a consistent axial symmetry to villa design. This makes La Barchessa di Villa Pisani particularly interesting.
While the architect’s signature is clearly displayed, the owners then create instability for every guest. Of course every room is unique, decorated with Bedeschi’s art and many subtle touches.
The hotel has been awarded with various art awards from Touring Club Italiano and also has a restaurant in keeping with the stylistic juxtapositions – the Osteria del Gua Restaurant breathes new life into traditional Italian cuisine.