The Brenta Riviera is a unique combination of history, culture, art and open scenery along the banks of the river that flows from Padua into the Venetian lagoon.
A hundred or more stately homes and elegant summer villas survive along the river’s edge and in the surrounding countryside, their outlines emphasizing the meandering course of the river and the geometry of the fields. Immersed in gardens richly planted with rare trees, these building stand before the passer-by with their timeless motifs-the marble balustrades, rococo gables and leaded windows that Palladio, Scamozzi and Frigimelica were so fond of surrounded by tiny villages with connotations of the 17th and 18th centuries and little parish churches housing Sansovino altars and 16th century altar pieces, baroque statues and medieval baptismal fonts.
The villas themselves contain a number of art treasures by painters from the region and other parts of Italy. The most important examples from the 16th-century are the frescos by Zelotti in the Palladian villa at Malcontenta, the Painting of Alcestis and Adametus in Villa Querini a Mira Porte and the decorations on the outside of villa Soranza of Fiesso, painted by Paolo Veronese’s brother, Benedetto Caliari.
The scenes from the Aeneid painted by Ruschi in villa Venier a Mira Vecchia and the splendid baroque figures in the villa Foscarini-Negrelli carriage house at Stra all date from the 17th century. Works from the 18th century include the frescoes by G.B. Tiepolo in the church in Mirano and villa Pisani at Stra, the ceiling by Guarana in the Fiesso parish church, the entire decoration of villa Widmann at Valmarana and the various landscapes left by Pietro Urbani in the villas of Stra and Noventa.
The churches also house the most important sculptures in the area.
As for the architecture, every inch of the district offers noteworthy examples, the oldest of which go right back to the Middle Age. Such a concentration of art treasures has always attracted illustrious personalities to the Riviera, from Henry III of France in 1574 to the European heads state in this century. Interest always was, and still is, also aroused by the landscapes over the sandbanks and lagoon that suggest such different impressions through the year, with autumn mists and crystal-clear spring mornings.
Then there are the fields and riverbanks, the isolated lanes running between rows of willows and ditches. But it is the river that dominates the scene, with the calm current meandering on, just right for boating or for sitting on its banks to admire sights that were so pleasing to Goldoni and Casanova, Goethe and D’Annunzio