Valsanzibio Formal Gardens
Gardens with more than 350 years of history. Laid out between 1665 and 1696 by one of Venice’s richest and most important families, the Barbarigo, as a solemn offering to God for having defeated the Plague of 1630/31.
The gardens were designed to form an allegorical walk to convey a positive message to visitors, of a life where difficulties are confronted and where there is always a solution, a life where it is always good to take time to stop and meditate, a life where time is precious, a life which should be lived intensely, with joy, awaiting eternity.
The current splendour of Valsanzibio dates back to the second half of the 17th century thanks to Venetian nobleman Zuane Francesco Barbarigo with the help of his sons Antonio and Gregorio.
It was Gregorio, his first child who went on to become a Cardinal, Bishop of Padua and a saint, who inspired the symbolism of the project which is the work of leading architect and papal fountain-maker Luigi Bernini. Indeed, the then-Cardinal Gregorio Barbarigo, following a solemn offering made by his father to the Lord in 1631, wanted the Valsanzibio garden to become a monument to the way of perfection which led man from Error to Truth, from Ignorance to Revelation.
The Pavilion of Diana was not just the main water entrance to the Barbarigo estate in the 17th and 18th centuries, this superb and imposing gateway also represented, and still represents, the start of the Way of Salvation, as Saint Gregorio Barbarigo wanted, ending in front of the villa, in the square with the Fountain of Ecstasy or of Revelation.
The boxwood maze, around 400 years old, is probably the oldest of its kind in the world and there are walls of boxwood up to five metres tall, unique in a Baroque garden which also comprises 60 statues carved from Istrian stone, largely the work of Merengo.
There are trees which are between 300 and 900 years old, drawn from four continents (Asia, America, Africa and Europe).
San Pelagio Air and Space Museum in Due Carrare
Since 1980, two wings of the stately, rural San Pelagio castle have housed the museum of flight. The museum covers the main stages in the of evolution flight, telling the story of man’s discovery of the skies and of space.
The old barns, cellars and residential rooms of the Zaborra family are today filled with exhibitions about legendary flights, visionary scientists, hot air balloons and dirigibles, aeroplanes, seaplanes and spacecraft.
On 6 June 1917, the Italian army set up an airstrip on farmland owned by the Zaborra family. The lathe used to produce aircraft parts dates back to this era, as does the Singer sewing machine which was used to sew parachutes and the canvas which was stretched over the wings of the planes.
An 18th century stone staircase gives access to the D’Annunzio Rooms on the first floor where a guided tour will introduce you to the poet and soldier who set off from San Pelagio for the famous Flight Over Vienna on 9 August 1918.
Catajo Castle, Battaglia Terme
A mighty and picturesque castle set into the rock with a terrace that is the perfect stage for weddings and other events, offering breathtaking views over the countryside, featuring the elephant fountain and the garden with its precious 18th century roses. But there is also the state room: the cycle of paintings by Zelotti is one of the most complete, well-preserved and important examples of its kind, a leading example of “self-celebratory” art in northern Italy.
40 panels bring to life events and exploits of the Obizzi family, in a detailed picture story recounting battles, weddings and tragic assassinations, enhanced on the ceilings and overdoors with a number of allegories and festoons depicting Cupid and flowers.
The monumental gateway, dating back to the 18th century, the main entrance to the castle was designed as a triumphal arch by Marquis Tommaso degli Obizzi, with statues, friezes and mascarons. The structure is made from white stone from Vicenza, bricks and wooden frames. The coat of arms of Marquis Tommaso degli Obizzi can be clearly seen on the key stone, flanked by decorations that recall military exploits.
Abano Civic Museum, Villa Bassi Rathgeb
The story of Villa Bassi Rathgeb dates back to 1566, when wealthy nobleman Giovanni Antonio Secco, originally from Cremona but an adopted Venetian and a respected doctor, decided to make a sizeable investment by purchasing a large area of farmland near Abano.
On this land, there was a small stone house the tiled roof and courtyard, stable, kiln, well, kitchen garden and orchard. The new owner wanted the site of this humble farmhouse for his new stately country house.
Construction was completed in 1576. The farmhouse had been transformed into large villa, with the façade overlooking the Via Ampia that links Abano with Padua. In the centre of the façade is a three-arch portico leading to the entrance to the house. This is to be flanked by towers on either side.
An Italian garden adorned the entrance to the house with another on the opposite side which could be viewed from the windows of the central room. On one side of the house there was a building for staff and the farm buildings. There was also a courtyard, a vegetable garden, a fishery and a small oratory. The property was passed down through the family, becoming ever more lavish and elegant.
The Secco family moved from Venice to Padua, building strong ties with the city’s nobility and marrying into important families, such as the Papafava counts and the Dondi dell’Orologio marquises. In 1769, when the last member of the Secco family died, the property was inherited by brothers Giovanni and Francesco Dondi dell’Orologio.
Over the years, they invested significant amounts of money in the Villa, which was extended and modified in line with the style at the time. It was raised by one floor and a new garden with a maze was added.The old, rather shabby oratory was replaced with a new chapel that was consecrated in 1777 and dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto.
The 16th century frescoes depicting bucolic and mythical scenes, by then considered unfashionable, were covered with stucco, which was very popular at the time.
To his great credit, the enlightened Giovanni relaunched the spas bringing to an end the long state of neglect into which the precious thermal springs around Abano had fallen after being widely used by the Romans, who were keen admirers of their therapeutic benefits.
The valuable paintings on display in this villa were left to the town of Abano Terme by Roberto Bassi Rathgeb when he died in Padua in 1972. Born in Bergamo in 1911, this great scholar and passionate art collector had close links with Abano Terme, having moved here for treatment before the town became his adopted home.
Villa Vescovi, Luvigliano
An important monument among the villas of Veneto, which introduced to this region a taste for the classical style with Roman Renaissance echoes, an early example of Palladianism.
The building was designed in the early 1500s by nobleman Alvise Cornaro for the Bishop of Padua, who identified the site for a group of intellectuals with a shared appreciation for the landscape and its role in fostering reflection and deep thought, considered vital for governing well.
Designed according to these ideals by the Verona architect Falconetto and with a rigidly geometric concept, the Villa was subsequently enhanced by Giulio Romano.It represents a sophisticated experiment of human culture in which the continuous interplay of the architecture, art and landscape in the spaces of the loggias create well-being in people.
The rooms inside are fully frescoed by the Flemish painter Lambert Sustris, a great disciple of Tiziano, with triumphs, trophies and bucolic landscapes, which continue to the loggias outside and merge into the real-life landscapes of the Euganean Hills.
A part that is truly one-of-a-kind, more than 65 hectares of uninterrupted rolling hills and flowering meadows. Laid out in 1860, Parco Frassanelle also contains a renowned golf course.
Reflecting the romantic style of the 1800s, the park’s design is the work of painter Alberto Papafava who was inspired by love of nature and the spirit of the time to create a diverse yet harmonious park. The flat areas are interspersed with hills, with paths acting as guides for visitors through the beautiful features such as the charming grotto, the neo-classical ornamental temple, the gorge and the bamboo forest.
The human touch goes hand in hand with that of mother nature in Parco Frassanelle, in complete harmony making this one of the most prestigious green spaces in the whole region.
The most iconic, fascinating and best-loved places in the Euganean Hills: plan your next trip and visit discover them all!