VILLA WIDMANN REZZONICO FOSCARI
The 18th century traveller who - in the course of his traditional Grand Tour of Italy aboard a private burchio, a typical barge - decided to climb the Brenta from Venice to Padua could not but help admire one of the jewels of late Venetian baroque, Villa Widmann Rezzonico Foscari and its estate at a bend in the river. Commissioned in the early 18th century by the Serimann, Venetian nobles of Persian origin, a half a century was to pass before the great country house assumed its present aspect when the Widmann family bought the property and refurbished it in the French rococo style then much in vogue. Two artists who were great rivals in Venetian art circles were commissioned to beautify the main salon, Giuseppe Angeli (1712-1798), one of Giambattista Piazzetta's pupils, and Gerolamo Mengozzi Colonna, an extraordinary quadra-turist and Tiepolo's favourite collaborator. In 1883 the villa was put up for auction. After certain changes of ownership the villa returned to the Widmann family. The villa was then sold in 1970 to the Costanzo family. Today the estate is the property of the Province of Venice. The grand salon of the villa has a ceiling reaching to a height of two floors with a suggestive gallery midway, and is completely frescoed in pleasingly light shades. On the wall to the right, the Abduction of Helen; on the opposite wall is the picture of the Sacrifice of Iphigenia And on the ceiling, as is usual in a noble residence, there is the Glorification of the Widmann Family. The luxuriant park extends north from the villa. The green of the lime-trees, the cypresses and the horse-chestnuts provide a backdrop for numerous stone statues. These represent gods, nymphs, cupids - mute players of the Arcadian world. In the background lies a romantic little late-nineteenth century lake with many bald cypresses rising magically out of the still waters.