The bizarre Loggia and Odeo Cornaro: Renaissance in the centre of Padua

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The Loggia and Odeo Cornaro [LOHJ-jah eh o-DEHO kohr-NAH-roh] are what remains of a larger complex of buildings and gardens owned by writer and mecenate (patron) Alvise Cornaro, a man who devoted himself to agriculture, hydraulic and architecture studies. As a patron he helped several artist, including Angelo Beolco, best known by the nickname Ruzante, playwright and actor, and Giovanni Maria Falconetto, painter and architect, with whom he designed the Loggia (1524) and the Odèo (1534).

Thanks to the interest for ancient theatre during Humanism, the Lodge was built to host plays and performances. It is in fact a sort of theatrical wing. Above the central arch (inspired by the ancient Roman triumphal arch) of the façade there are two beautiful Winged Victories. In the upper level are located the statues of Diana, Venus and Apollo. Inside the lodge alternate frescoes and stucco with allegorical and mythological subjects (the Four Seasons, Hercules, the story of the young Dionysus and the gods that give name to the planets: Diana-Moon, Mars, Saturn, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter).

Loggia and Odeo Cornaro
Loggia and Odeo Cornaro

The Odèo was a place for music, debates and erudite conversations. The Façade presents two allegory: the Sun-Day and the Moon-Night. The vault of the central octagonal room has beautiful grotesque decorations, inspired by the Domus Aurea of Nero, discovered only at the end of the previous century. The frescoes show motifs related to the practice of alchemy or the rituals of the rural world: putti, satyrs, fortune-tellers and other mysterious figures. Remarkable the adjacent rooms: the Pompeian Style one, with red and ochre frescoes, and the one with the frieze with a triumphal procession.

Odeo Cornaro
Odeo Cornaro

The complex remained a private residence until 1968, when he Countess Giulia Giusti del Giardino bequeathed it to the City of Padua. In 1984 began a careful restoration work (cleaning of the paintings, repair of the roof of the lodge and consolidation of the mural surface). The second floor of the Odèo is not open yet.


My experience visiting the Loggia and Odeo Cornaro

I went to the Loggia and Odeo Cornaro on a Saturday afternoon with my husband. It was almost 4 o’ clock so we could immediately get in (you can get in every half hour). The girl at the ticket booth (member of the Torlonga Association, which takes care of the guided tours and organizes many interesting activities) was immediately keen to help us on our visit. She opened the gate for us and escorted us, offering spontaneously some explanations regarding the complex.

It was very useful and appreciated. The only problem was that she had (obviously) to pay attention to the ticket booth too, so every now and then she got away to let other people in or give informations. Anyhow, there was also a leaflet (in Italian and English) at disposal. The location is beautiful, a few steps from Saint Anthony’s Basilica, but it seems to be in the countryside, with the green grass around you and these beautiful airy structures. You can take pictures only outside, so I have no photos of the frescoes. Sorry. You can see a few online.

I always thought: “It’s near home, sooner or later I’d go…blah- blah..”. So basically I had never been there before, and it was a shame. In my opinion it is really worth a visit. It was a charming experience. The place is bizarre, the frescoes in the octagonal room are very eccentric. They must be observed carefully to notice all the queer details. The place is small so the visit is short (about half an hour). Plus, it’s a great value for money. Only 3€ to see a true Renaissance gem. Besides, it is not at all crowded. But do not expect to see the Sistine Chapel!

Entrance to the Odeo
Entrance to the Odeo

Loggia and Odeo Cornaro – Info

PLUS

  • Example of Paduan Renaissance
  • Charming location, a few steps from The Basilica of St. Anthony
  • Beautiful eccentric frescoes

MINUS

  • Presence of few steps so unsuitable for those with mobility impairments
  • In order to fully appreciate the visit, it would probably be better to join a guided tour. I’m not sure if there are any in English

Did you know that… In an essay entitled Discorso sulla vita sobria (Speech on the sober life), written when he was already 74, Alvise Cornaro suggested the rules to age in the best way. He writed:

I am so agile that I can still ride and climb steep stairs and slopes effortlessly. I’m in a good mood and I’m not tired of life. I accompany myself with men of genius, who excel in knowledge and virtue. When I can not enjoy their company, I devote myself to reading and writing. I sleep well and my dreams are pleasant and relaxing. I believe that most of men, if they were not slaves of their senses, passions, greed and ignorance, could enjoy a long and happy life, in the name of moderation and prudence.

Loggia and Odeo Cornaro
padovacultura.padovanet.it/it/musei/loggia-e-odeo-cornaro-0
www.latorlonga.it/index.php/loggia-e-odeo-cornaro
Via Cesarotti, 37, Padua

Tickets
Full Price 3 €
Reduced 2 €

Opening hours
Entrance every half hour

1 Nov – 31 Jan
Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 1 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 1 pm / 3 – 6 pm

1 Febr – 31 Oct
Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 1 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 1 pm / 4 – 7 pm

Closed on Mondays except holidays, 1 Jan, 1 May, 25 e 26 Dec

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