Museum & Events
The Villa – History
Towards the middle of the sixteenth century powerful noble Venetian families thought to invest the wealth accumulated in the trade with the East in the creation of agricultural enterprises in the mainland; so did the Corner, Barbaro, Emo, Grimaldi ,etc. who were power holders but also art lovers. Thus was born the Venetian Villa, a type of dwelling and original production, which had great success because it responded to esthetic and practical needs; In fact, next to the main building, that housed the patrician, built by renowned artists, stood the barns, stables and cottages. Initially, all the Villas were built in contact with nature and had as the primary goal the investment for intensive agriculture and only later the Villa took on a character of a vacation home, also becoming a kind of status symbol. Over the course of three centuries, several hundred villas were built in the countryside of the Veneto region and along the main rivers. Among the most famous, Villa Maser, designed by Palladio and frescoed by P. Veronese, Villa Emo and Villa Foscari, called “Malcontenta”, frescoed by Zelotti . Among the most fascinating, though less known, Villa Soranzo Chiminelli in Sant’Andrea di Castelfranco Veneto. Lovely building of the second half of the sixteenth century, frescoed on the outside and on the main floor by Benedetto Caliari, Paolo Veronese’s brother, and his school. The Villa was built on an earlier “domus” mentioned in a deed of partition in 1477, already documented in a map of 1598 and cited by historian B. Scapinelli in “Historia di Castelfranco” (1623).
Recent studies show that the original property, “in origin attributed to the Corner family,” was indeed of Francesco Soranzo, noble Venetian, pastor at St. Andrea oltre il Muson from 1563 to 1595. In 1614 it passed to the noble family Piacentini and later, in 1852, to the Tiepolo family, which passed it on to the current owners.
The Villa consists of the basement used as vaulted cellars, a mezzanine floor entirely frescoed , and the first floor, once used as a barn. For the relatively small dimensions and decorative elements, it falls into the category of vacation homes, hunting and typical literary pleasures of the architecture of the mainland, namely the “villa culture” of wealthy Venetians. The layout of the first floor, with the classic central hall, four side rooms and the ‘loggia’, reproduces the traditional Venetian plant. In the province of Treviso, there are several examples of this architecture, characterized by the sobriety of the linear scheme with vast tripartite openings. A two-storey west wing of the Nineteenth-century is connected to the villa at the mezzanine level, once called “Mesa”, and with the ground floor porch with courtyard gives access to the public road. Originally the entrance opened to the south paved courtyard and garden enclosed by a wall also frescoed, modified in 1800 on the west side to create a two-story barn. A chapel with a wooden altar of the fifteenth century, overlooks the entrance porch. The villa, recently restored, is equipped with winter heating and modern facilities, furnished with antiques and fine sculptures.
The Frescoes Veronese
In front of the Villa the Soranzo crest is visible. The remainder of the exterior decoration recalls Palladian architectural flavor. The triple opening of the lodge is underlined by a fake colonnade: large fluted columns with Corinthian capitals mark the prospects with the bottom of imitation ashlar, to build a “painted architecture” of great charm. Beyond the short staircase, flanked by statues of the eighteenth century, near the Bonazza style, depicting the four seasons, we come to the atrium that gives light to the central hall. The decoration is very diversified: cherubs, garlands of vegetables and fruits, birds, musical instruments and notes, and four figures of musicians. The two side doors are topped with fake windows. The Corner coat of arms is repeated in the north wall and remembers the history of the illustrious family. In fact it is deduced that the Villa can be dated to after 1564, the year of the transfer of the Bishop’s Hat to Giorgio Corner, as confirmed by a slab-tile dated 1578. The two lateral arms are of the Priuli and Soranzo families. Lovely are the ceiling decorations, framed in small vaults, lunettes and ovals, with musical angels and winged putti. Its ‘the “manner” of Veronese, which is found in the Villa Maser and the neighboring Soranza, designed by Sanmicheli, demolished in 1800, so they cannot exclude a partial intervention on his part. From the lodge you go to the salon. Here the effect of illusion is accentuated in the diagram boxes in which architectural counterpoint windows and open loggias of expansive landscapes prospectively focused on the diagonals. Of the two center panels, representing country scenes, unfortunately remain only sinopie, as the originals were torn during the second world war. The side panels represent Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. In the overdoors there are monochrome figures of the four seasons, the Samaritan woman at the well, Susanna and the Elders. Accents mannerist, which recall Veronesians inventions, especially in open landscapes over the fake loggia’s balustrade, with figures of women in sumptuous drapery and close-ups of trees of heaven moved: real “trompe l’oeil”. Even the side rooms are entirely frescoed and have wooden Sansovino ceilings with beams originally painted. The east room, which is accessed from the hall, is the “music room”: musical instruments of all kinds, and notes between flowery festoons are elegant vertical friezes. The themes of Faith, Hope and Charity and, in the panels above, Magdalene and St. Jerome, complete the cycle. On the wall to the north a landscape framed by Ionic colonnades and east of a marble fireplace surmounted by the Virgin and Child. In the north room, another fireplace in Verona marble is inserted into an architectural decoration, with fake banners, armor, coats of arms and monochrome scenes of biblical character, cupids, grapevines. On the panel over the door the theme of the Deposition and, above fireplace, the Martyrdom of S. Giustina. The room on the right of the saloon, lights up fake windows, with landscapes of trees and animated by scenes of monochrome on rounds, softened with floral decorations, with the effect of wall hangings. The kitchen, built in the nineteenth century, and the staircase that rises to the mezzanine floor and attics intended to be a barn, once partially painted, complete the atmosphere. In an undefined period, the frescoed walls were covered with layers of lime and the premises divided. The current owners under the control of the Istituto Regionale delle Ville Venete and the Soprintendenza ai Monumenti conducted the restorations at different times.
Garden and Barns
In front of the Villa, to the south, a large paved square, gives breadth and depth to the frescoed facade. Here, the Italian garden, closed to the east from the ancient frescoed wall and also in need of restoration, decorated by a fountain located on axis with the lodge, and numerous valuable sculptures, in hard stone and in Vicenza stone, and archaeological finds. To the west lies the “orchard”, a lawn, furnished by several antique farm machinery and fruit trees in tradition of the eighteenth century. In depth, beyond the old gate, set on brick pillars, lies the great avenue that bisects the farm, destined to the west to green vineyards, and to the east to agricultural production.
West of the villa in the rustics, there are collected hundreds of tools and machines used in the tanning industry in Bassano, and particularly in the “Scamosceria del Grappa”, company derived for upcoming steps from the factory “to style skins camozine use of Germany” , installed in Bassano in 1773 by B. Janoch, favored by the flow of the river Brenta. The small museum is considered a tribute to entrepreneurship and the tanning tradition of Bassano del Grappa that goes back to the concessions of Mastino della Scala in 1339 and has been a leader in the world in the field of suede. So much that up until the 60’s designers from all over Italy came to the Scamosceria to select the colors of the “ModaPelle”.
Another attraction is a small museum of agricultural tradition, housed on the first floor of the side barn. There is a collection of about 1,000 objects representative of all that was furniture, equipment and instrumentation work and daily life of the Venetian countryside of those times. Assembled with patience, these objects form a collection that perhaps has no equal in Veneto. There are tools used by woodcutters and carpenters, tools needed to work in the fields, the furnishings of the peasant houses, kitchenware: branches, andirons, pottery, forerunners machines to make butter, pressure cookers etc. One section is dedicated to weaving, with a number of sewing machines, looms and clothes. Finally there are carriages, wagons, plows and harvesters, placed in the “orchard”.
A third interesting and curious museum, on the first floor of the west wing of the rustic, a collects “commode”, tubs and sinks. The collection is completed by a series of printing machines, phonographs, player pianos, projectors, musical instruments, toys, etc., which document the industrial revolution of the late eighteenth century. The collection, complemented by vintage prints and religious images, is being cataloged.
Wedding Hall and Events
On the old farmhouses, barns and stables of the Villa, it was obtained, after a careful restoration, a rural complex made up of a main three-tier to the east and a two-storey wing to the west, which is an alternative to traditional venues for weddings and social events. The rooms and the large yard allow a maximum flexibility of use and multiple solutions depending on the needs. There is a possibility of organizing an original and evocative style bucolic wedding, American style, with outdoor reception along the tree-lined street or in the shade of the vineyard. Not having an internal catering, on request, names of confidence can be supplied.
Room Meetings and Conferences
The west wing of the rural complex hosts a space that has been recently set up to accomodate conferences and company meetings.
In the farm adjoining the villa the vineyard, already in productionin the nine teenth century, has been reactivated, and is kicked off the wine production of Prosecco DOC, the marketing of which, with the logo of the Villa, is already in place.