Museo Naturalistico dei Colli Euganei ''Villa Beatrice''
Villa Beatrice is named after the blessed Beatrice d’Este, who lived here between 1221 and 1226. On the site of the current villa there stood at the time a small monastery previously inhabited by hermits. Beatrice was a descendant of the illustrious House of Este, who, before moving to Ferrara, had been the rulers of Este and part of the region around Padua. Beatrice initially took her vows in the small Santa Margherita monastery in Salarola, between Monte Cero and Monte Castello. 18 months later, in 1221, she moved to Gemola, converting the remains of a simple abandoned convent. She lived here with fellow religious followers until she passed away from consumption in 1226. Her reputation for holiness spread rapidly across the region and throughout the 1200s the monastery received generous gifts and legacies. In 1576, the religious followers at Gemola monastery were transferred to Padua and Beatrice’s remains were taken to Santa Sofia church. After being abandoned for a period of time in 1657 the convent was taken over by a Venetian merchant. The conversion of the monastery into a villa dates from that time, its layout remaining unchanged to this day, with the exception of the former cemetery which was affected by the construction of the colonnade at the start of this century. The restoration of the monument funded by the government in the 1970s and 80s was preceded by painstaking research which helped to uncover, within the villa, traces of the ancient monastery. At present some of the rooms on the ground floor of the villa are home to the provincial museum’s natural history section. It illustrates the flora and fauna of the region in both the Euganean Hills and the surrounding plains.
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