The Republic of Venice, in more than a thousand years of history, has left us with quite a heritage.
Certainly one of the most striking is the so-called City of Venetian Villas, full of the personal histories of families and community, an artistic heritage composed of the expressions of many architects, painters and sculptors.
Leaving behind the hubbub of the Lagoon of Venice, noble Venetians from the 1700s came by boat to the Riviera del Brenta, sailing the placid waters of the Brenta River: here they found refreshment and relaxation in homes worthy of their rank, built with all the comforts they were used to in the city. In those days, holidays were a real passion.
This can be seen in the pages of the ‘Holiday Trilogy’by the Venetian Goldoni, a rollicking comedy of manners about holiday customs, including amorous intrigue, feverish preparations for departure and ridiculous extravagance brought from the city to the country. This passion handed down to us a heritage of 4,238 villas that, today, are a tourist destination arousing great interest; a distributed museum holding the evidence of a rich, glitzy past. More than 200 of the villas are open to the public and can be seen by following itineraries that also include the local waterways.
Watercourses and river navigation
The City of Venetian Villas can also be seen by sailing along the rivers that offer attractive water routes unique in their nature, history and culture. You can sail either the calm waters of the Bacchiglione and the Brenta river, or the lagoon south of Venice and its fishing valleys.
Navigating the Bacchiglione offers striking natural scenes: embarking in Bovolenta or Pontelongo, crossing the green banks, the reclaimed open plain and the lock at Brondolo, you get to Chioggia, hug the coast of Pellestrina and perhaps continue to Venice or the Riviera del Brenta. This itinerary leads the traveller in discovery of the reclamation works done in past centuries in this area: ancient draining pumps and examples of real hydraulic engineering are still visible, and visitable, along this route.
Also wonderful is navigating along the Riviera del Brenta, following the routes the ancient Venetian barges of the 1700s took, aiming at Mira, or going all the way to Padua on the day trip. The traveller will be fascinated by the nine swing bridges in Mira, the Locks, which act like ‘water lifts’ and allow the tourist to rise, or descend, differences in water level; the majestic old villas decorating the silent banks of the river, and the stupendous weeping willows reflected in the water. This exciting trip on the waters of the Brenta River will show you the history, culture and art of the Repubblica della Serenissima (Most Serene Republic)..