A photo of Villa Capra detta La Rotonda by Andrea Palladio near Vicenza, by Mark Beston

study tours

Villas of the Veneto (six-day study tour)

  • Begins: Tuesday 12 September 2017
    Until: Sunday 17 September 2017

Andrea Palladio is one of the most influential architects of all time. To a large extent, his enduring fame was the result of his publication in 1570 of the Quattro Libri dell’Architettura which made his designs available to architects all over the world. But it is his homeland, the rich countryside surrounding Padua, Vicenza and Verona, where we can admire his most famous buildings: the stately villas of the Veneto. From the middle of the 14th century, wealthy Venetians and mainland aristocrats alike wanted grand buildings from which to overlook and manage their vast farmlands, whether in the river plains of the rivers Brenta, Adige or Po, or in the hills between the Valpolicella, Bassano del Grappa or Asolo. Since Petrarch’s times, these country houses answered agricultural needs and re ected social status, but they were also places of relaxation and pleasurable pursuits, where their owners withdrew from the busy life in town. All these aspects found perfect expression in Palladio’s buildings. Moreover, they were beautifully proportioned and drew on the prestigious vocabulary of Classical architecture. This Art Pursuits Abroad Study Tour will visit most of this architect’s surviving villas and compare them with their mediaeval precedents, contemporary designs by other architects, and with 18th-century reinterpretations.

  • Day 1: Late morning flight with BA from London Gatwick to Venice. On our way to Vicenza, we will stop at Palladio’s palatial Villa Foscari at Malcontenta, towering above the Brenta canal and surrounding fields. From there continue to our four-star hotel in Vicenza where all five nights of the tour will be spent. Dinner in a good local restaurant nearby.
  • Day 2: In-depth exploration of Vicenza to admire Palladio’s handsome town architecture, from the ingenious town hall, better known as the Basilica, to the fabulous Teatro Olimpico, the first purpose-built civic theatre building since Antiquity. After lunch, visit Palladio’s most iconic building, the Villa Rotonda with four identical temple fronts. A short walk through enchanting countryside will take us to the nearby 17th-century Villa Valmarana ai Nani, frescoed in the 1750s by Giambattista Tiepolo and his son Domenico. Independent evening meal in Vicenza.
  • Day 3: In the morning, coach excursion to Palladio’s unfinished Villa Thiene at Quinto Vicentino, a fascinating architectural-historical puzzle. From there continue toVilla Godi, Palladio’s earliest house in the country, austere on the outside, but beautifully frescoed inside. Lunch in the villa’s portico will give us an opportunity to enjoy another aspect of the good life of ‘villeggiatura’. Return to Vicenza for some free time and an independent meal.
  • Day 4: Three grand villas situated to the south and southwest of Vicenza are this day’s destinations: Palladio’s Villa Pisani at Bagnolo and Villa Poiana at Poiana Maggiore embody the perfect symbiosis of farmstead and country palace, while the nearby Rocca Pisana by Palladio’s Vincenzo Scamozzi, majestically placed on the top of a hill, demonstrates Palladio’s influence on the next generation. Return to Vicenza via the 18th-century Villa Cordellina with frescoes by Tiepolo. Independent meal.
  • Day 5: The1550s were the period of Palladio’s greatest activity as a villa architect: enjoy visits to the royal Villa Cornaro at Piombino Dese and Villa Barbaro at Maser, arguably the most beautiful of them all, with its magnificent fresco cycle by Paolo Veronese. Continue to the monumental Villa Emo at Fanzolo with its splendid fresco decoration by Giambattista Zelotti. Final dinner in a good restaurant in the centre of Vicenza.
  • Day 6: By coach to the magnificent 18th-century Villa Pisani at Stra with its charming garden follies and a fantastic trompe-l’oeil Tiepolo ceiling. After an early lunch break continue to Venice airport for a mid-afternoon flight with British Airways to London Gatwick, scheduled to land at c. 4.20pm.

Image gallery

Villa Foscari
Anonymous (illegibly monogrammed) - artist's rendition of the interior of Palladio's Teatro Olimpico, in Vicenza (1908)
Villa Godi
Villa Poiana

Places available

Flyer for Study Tour to Villas of the Veneto