The Veneto by bicycleVenetian Villas
Villa Foscari at Mira Malcontenta (VE)
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Malcontenta, altitude 3 m/10 feet above sea level, district of Mira; train station at Venezia Mestre, 5 km/3 miles to the north. The villa faces the final branch of the Brenta Canal, which here marks the boundary between the city of Venice and the town of Mira.

The villa is situated also along the bicycle route of the Brenta.


Designed by Palladio on behalf of one of the most prestigious and powerful Venetian families, this villa was completed around 1560. It has a cubic form with a Greek temple front facing the Brenta Canal, a design motif reminiscent of its contemporary design, Villa Rotonda in Vicenza (although there the temple front appears four times, one on each side), and that represents, to some degree, a paradigm of all the Venetian villas. In many ways the rear facade facing the garden is the more interesting and significant with its marble-effect stucco that simulates rusticated stone, and the tripartite windows that first culminate in a “thermal” window, penetrating the broken pediment, and that reappear at the attic below a second pediment. (*)

Next to the villa, during the seventeenth century, there were constructed some terraces, and early in the eighteenth century, a guesthouse and an oratory. After the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, the villa fell into disuse, and was used as a farm building. During the nineteenth century, and especially during 1848 when Austrian troops used it as a bivouac, the newer parts were demolished thus returning the house to its original configuration. In 1973, after decades of British ownership, it was acquired again by the Foscari family which still owns it.

The origin of the rather curious name, Malcontenta, is uncertain, but there are two theories that have been proposed: a) the area acquired that name as a protest by the local population to frequent flooding; b) a Venetian noblewoman of the Foscari family was locked up in the villa as punishment for adultery, and this imprisonment, obviously, made her malcontent; this second interpretation seems to be a romantic legend that was born in the nineteenth century.

The interior of the villa can be visited between May 1 and October 30, but only on Tuesdays and Saturdays, during the morning hours (9-12); admission is 10 €.

Palladio first used a similar motif – a large thermal window facing the garden - at Villa Pisani at Bagnolo, although without the rustication and without the feeling of verticality. X

Latest visit: 2016-06-25


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Panoramic photo: slide the photo using the scroll bar at the bottom or, to see the entire photo, click on the image. X