The Veneto by bicycleVenetian Villas
Villa Cornaro at Piombino Dese
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Piombino Dese, province of Padua, altitude 25 m/80 feet above sea level, Via Roma; train station at Piombino Dese, on the Venezia-Bassano line, 400 m/ 1/4 mile to the north. The villa is easily reached from the Treviso-Ostiglia bike route.

Open to the public from May through September: Saturday 3:30 to 6:00 pm, admission € 7.

The villa is located in the center of Piombino Dese; along with the contemporary Villa Pisani at Montagnana, it is the first villa commissioned to Palladio by one of the great Venetian families, in this case the Cornaro (or Corner) family. In fact it was Giorgio Cornaro who made Palladio responsible for its design during 1552-53.

The facade facing the street has a loggia at each of the two floors, the lower in Ionic style, the upper in Corinthian; the rear facade is very similar. The overall appearance is more that of a Venetian palazzo than that of a country house: there are no agricultural support buildings, only the gardens.

Inside at the first floor level is an entrance hall with four tall columns that support the upper level main floor along with statues of important members of the family, including Caterina Cornaro, who became Queen of Cyprus, and the doge Marco Cornaro. The rooms were frescoed during the eighteenth century by Mattia Bortoloni.

The villa remained the property of the Cornaro family until 1807, then passed hands several times until by the middle of the twentieth century it had been reduced to being used as a parish kindergarten; during 1969 it was acquired by the American Richard Rush and since 1989 it has been the property of Carl and Sally Gable from Atlanta, Georgia (USA).

There has been a longstanding interest by Anglo-Americans for the work of Palladio and for this particular villa which has had a significant influence both in England and in the United States. Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, is believed to have used Villa Cornaro as the inspiration for the first version of his own famous villa, Monticello, and other Palladio drawings for the subsequent version.

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