I visited Villa “La Rotonda,” Palladio‘s most charming Villa, many times over, but never inside. The estate is still privately owned, and the owner was a relatively private person. Therefore the visits were permitted only the outside and to walk around the four identical facades. Nevertheless, it was still a lovely sight and worth seeing. It is Palladio we are talking about, after all.
Finally, the heirs decided to open the doors to the public. Well, not quite all four 😉 because one facade was under restoration (the photos of the facade below are from a previous tour), and in any case, the main entrance is the one that faces East.
It didn’t matter much which way they let us in, though, as long as we could finally see those fantastic interiors.
I must say that the main quarters (or Piano Nobile, as it was called then), was beyond my expectations.
The building has three floors, plus a mezzanine.
As was customary on Palladio’s days, the ground floor was used as the service room, as was the kitchen, and was accessible from the garden through a vaulted passage.
The upper floors, or Piano Nobile, were reachable via four spiral staircases, visible from the main “rotunda” room.
The Piano Nobile is the most representative part of the building, with high ceilings decorated with frescoes and stuccoes.
There are four rectangular corner rooms and four dressing rooms that communicate with the main “rotunda” central room. On the other hand, the central hall is reached by four corridors of unequal width, which start directly from the entrances to the four loggias.
The Villa is just a quarter of a mile from Vicenza city walls, the hill on which Villa La Rotonda stands guaranteed the healthiness of the air much sought after by the nobles of the Venetian mainland. Maybe not today, though, since the highway is just nearby.
It was a suburban villa combined with the function of a farm that Palladio had in mind when he started the project. Because, contrary to what it seems, the Rotonda was also a center of management of the fields: in its rooms lived the owner, Paolo Almerico, who from the height had the visual control of his lands, but unlike the other Venetian villas, the rustic outbuildings were far from the main body of the building.
Still today, that is the impression one gets from upstairs.
The Villa appears isolated, without walls or hedges to defend it: what made the Rotonda an icon of perfection and harmony is precisely that unique, indissoluble, and osmotic relationship Palladio created with the landscape.