Villa Emo at Fanzolo di Vedelago (Treviso) is a Venetian Villa realized by architect Andrea Palladio in the mid 1500s. Together with the other Ville Venete and Vicenza is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The family Emo owned it from the construction until 2004. It was then bought by a bank and managed by a foundation, Fondazione Villa Emo. The foundation organises conferences, concerts, exhibitions and also the Invasioni Digitali (digital invasions), an initiative to use the new forms of communication and multimedia in the cultural sector.
I visited the villa precisely in occasion of the Invasioni Digitali event. It was not just a regular invasion but a a detail scavengers hunt. We were provided with a paper depicting 14 different details of the decorations and the furniture of the main rooms. Our purpose was to find them all and share them on social media. It was surely a funny and engaging way to discover the villa and… to learn to pay more attention. I often do not notice things, so for me it was a real challenge.
Roberta, Cristina, Stefania and I managed to get third place. Which is not bad.
Villa Emo and the bond with agriculture
The main halls, intended for the aristocrats family, are in the centre. On the sides are the two long barchesse, place for the agricultural activities. This is in fact the classical example of country house of a Venetian noble family.
You can find hints of this relationship with the agricultural world just closely observing the frescoes: you will see garlands made not of flowers but garlic, kale and corn. Why corn? Its cultivation was first tested in the Veneto region precisely in the farmstead of Villa Emo at Fanzolo.
Sadly modern visitors can not access it from the main entrance, but on the side. Otherwise the impact would be astonishing. In fact the thing that hit me the most was the contrast between the simplicity of the exterior and the opulence of the inner decorations by Zelotti, same painter of Villa Malcontenta. Outside: quiet beauty reminding of a Greek temple in the plain and placid Veneto countryside. Inside: refined frescoes, vivid colours in a tale that combines ancient mythology, Christian subjects and Roman history. However a unique message inspires all different subjects: the triumph of marital virtues over passion.
An important lesson
When I was there I witnessed a wonderful thing. A father was there with his son. The boy could have been 8. The father was explaining to him one of the frescoes in the Loggia. The fresco depicts a scene of a “cuddle” between two women. Actually, one of the women is same old Zeus, who tries to seduce nymph Callisto (consecrated to goddess Diana) taking the appearance of the goddess. So, the father was saying: “This is one of the rare images in an ancient villa, in which you can see two women who love each other.” Then he added the Zeus thing. But what’s important here imho is that he pointed out the fresco to his son. And he explained to him an image as if it was a normal thing, as it should be. Let’s hope the new generations will be more open!
I loved the vestibule with a pergola decoration, full of grapes, safeguarded by cute Cupid. You know me by now. How can I resist to a fresco with a chubby putto, grapes and cute things? I just can’t.
The ancient village
Across the road you can see a group of buildings that once formed the ancient village, also probably designed by Palladio. Part of these buildings now host private events (parties, weddings). The other part must be restored and re-qualified. Wouldn’t be nice to transform them in a B&B?
By the way, just walking past the former village you reach the train station. 45 minutes and you reach Padova directly.
I found the villa fascinating, especially for the frescoes. If you love the genre, I think it is worth a detour if you’re in the area.