Set against the green hills of the Euganei Hills and located approximately 60 kilometres from Venice, the magnificent Villa Barbarigo and its garden are worth taking a trip out of town
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Euganei Hills’, Villa Barbarigo with its monumental garden is located in an area steeped in nature and history, the ideal destination for art lovers and nature enthusiasts. Thanks to the thermal waters of Abano and Montegrotto Terme, the largest spa hub in Europe, the area is a sought-after destination for those in search of relaxing, wellness retreats.
At Villa Barbarigo, in the province of Padua, you can admire the authentic Italian Baroque Garden of Valsanzibio. Over the years, it has gained international recognition. In addition being published in leading art and botany books, it was named the most beautiful garden in Italy in 2003 and one of the most beautiful in Europe in 2007. In 2004, it was used as the setting for The Merchant of Venice, a romantic film starring Al Pacino (the movie on IMDB). In 2013, ‘QVC’, an American television network, chose it for a program that was aired live and, in 2016 ‘Arte’, the European Culture Channel, dedicated an installment of the program ‘Jardins d’ici et d’ailleurs’ to it, selecting it from among twenty of Europe’s most important historical gardens. Each year, the garden is a highly sought-after destination for international tourists.
Statues bordering one of the main fountains
A giant magnolia in the park
The Majestic Park, the Star of the Show
The villa, which was used as a residence prior to the design of its monumental garden, complements the majestic park. In fact, it is the only Veneto Villa whose park is the main feature. The garden was built during the second half of the 17th century by Venetian nobleman Zuane Francesco Barbarigo, with the help of his sons, Antonio and Gregorio. It was the latter – a cardinal, the Archbishop of Padua and a future saint – who inspired the religious symbolism of the project designed by leading Vatican architect and fountain expert Luigi Bernini, brother of the famous sculptor Gianlorenzo. Cardinal Barbarigo wanted the garden of Valsanzibio to symbolize the path of perfection that leads man from Error to Truth, from Ignorance to Revelation. The Pavilion or Portal of Diana (photo) was not the only main access route via water to the Barbarigo estate in the 12th and 13th centuries. This superb, imposing gateway represented the beginning of the Road to Salvation, ending in the open space that houses the Fountain of the Mushroom, also known as the Fountain of Ecstasy.
A Symbolic Itinerary
The bosso maze
The Rabbit Island
This magnificent Baroque garden has 70 statues, mostly by Marengo, sculpted in Istrian stone. There are also other minor sculptures that blend harmoniously with the architecture, streams, waterfalls, fountains, water features and fish pools that are scattered amidst numerous trees and shrubs, spread over more than 10 hectares of land. Additionally, within the complex itself, important highlights along the Road to Salvation include the Bosso maze, the symbolic Cave of the Hermit, Rabbit Island and the Monument to Time. Until the 19th century, visitors could access the Portal of Diana – so called because of the goddess of hunting who stands atop it – via water from Venice. Today, Battaglia can still be reached by boat. In those days, however, initiates had to cross the Valley of Sant’Eusebio, now known as Valsanzibio (from which the garden takes its name) to reach the landing stage in front of the garden.
An Authentic Historical Garden
Some of the he water features
Built between 1665 and 1696, the garden of Valsanzibio is an extraordinary example of a symbolic garden. This magnificent garden boasts a number of fully operative water features and is currently one of the largest, best-kept Baroque gardens in the world. Credit for the preservation of this beautifully tended garden is owed to the loving care bestowed upon it by the ‘Barbarigo Noblemen’ during the 17th and 18th centuries, the noble Michiel family and the Counts of Martinengo during the 19th century and the Counts of Donà delle Rose during the early 20th century. The villa and it gardens have been the property of the Counts of Pizzoni-Ardemani since 1929. Owners of the estate for three generations, the Pizzoni- Ardemani family not only repaired the damage caused by military occupation and the forced abandonment of the villa during World War II, but also recently renovated all of the garden’s 33 water features, damaged by eighty years of gradual ground-water depletion.
Do you like mazes and labyrinths? Read Lisa Kaylor’s article on Wheretraveler.com
FANGO EUTROFICO EUDERMICO EUGANEO 'F.E.E.E.'
The mud used by the spas of the hotels in Abano and Montegrotto Terme, affiliated with the AQUAEHOTELS Consortium, is identified by the ‘Fango Eutrofico Eudermico Euganeo ( “F.E.E.E.”) trademark and is quality certified. The production process – which guarantees specific characteristic and scientifically proven therapeutic properties – makes it unique worldwide. The salt-bromine-iodine hyper-thermal water which gushes from the depths of the sub-soil in Abano and Montegrotto Terme at a temperature of 80°C, is contained in special vats known as ‘fangaie’. When this water comes into contact with the natural clay enriched with micro-algae spores, a process involving the production of powerful biological active principles comes into play, serving not only as a cure for muscle and back problems but also as a therapy to combat skin-ageing.
To try a F.E.E.E. mud treat visit the www.aquaehotels.it website.
OPENING DAYS AND HOURS:
Open every day from March to the 8th of December, from 10am-1pm and from 2pm to sunset.
On Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays open from 10am to sunset.
full ticket 11 euro, reductions available.
Personalized guided visits + aperitif on the terrace are available on booking.