Villa Pisani, also called the National one, is one of the most famous examples of the Venetian villa of the Brenta Riviera; rises in Stra, in the province of Venice, and overlooks the Brenta Canal. Today it is home to a national museum, which preserves works of art and furnishings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Villa Pisani History
It was built in the eighteenth century by Francesco Maria Preti, on a project originally from Gerololamo Frigimelica. The works were completed in time to celebrate the nomination of Alvise Pisani as a doge of the Serenissima. A bend in the Brenta stands at the entrance of Stra, so that it can be admired by wayfarers. In fact, to prove their wealth and their splendor, the owners gave up the garden along the shore. The huge and grandiose complex includes a main body with a rectangular plan, facing the river and some smaller buildings in the park. The baroque façade is interrupted in the middle by a taller central body, enriched by giant Corinthian columns that support the tympanum, while the two symmetrical side wings continue with ionic pilasters and end by proposing the temple motif. Terraces and roofs are embellished with statues. Inside the central body, which separates two courtyards, houses on the ground floor a portico that connects the entrance with the garden and on the upper floor a large double-height frescoed dance hall. The villa includes 114 rooms furnished with eighteenth-century furniture and decorated both by Tiepolo and other quality painters such as Amigoni, Canal, Zucarelli, Crosato and Ricci.
A large park extends behind the villa, where is located the famous hedge maze celebrated by Gabriele D'Annunzio and also the smaller buildings such as the stables, in front of which were placed the stables, the "House of the fresh" on little hill, the fixed scene for the open theater, the turrets and the access portals along the wall.
Villa Pisani is also famous for its labyrinth of box hedges. In the middle there is a turret, surmounted by a statue of Minerva. In the labyrinth there was the game between lady and knight: the lady stood on the central tower with her masked face and the knight had to reach her, once she arrived, she revealed her true identity: but it was always a surprise.
The ice house, also called "the house of the fresh" is an artificial hill, internally hollow and with a moat around it. In the moat, in winter, the water froze; the ice was cut into large blocks that, through a tunnel, were accumulated inside the hill and used to store food and drinks in the summer.
The villa was bought in 1807 by Napoleon who donated it to the Viceroy of Italy Eugenio Beauharnais, in 1814 it passed to the Austrian Crown and from this to the House of Savoy which in 1886 ceded it to the State. Today it has become the property of the state. So in its halls have passed characters like Napoleon, Ferdinand of Austria, Maximilian of Habsburg, Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy and in 1943 was the theater for a meeting between Hitler and Mussolini.