AN ANCIENT STORY
Villa Angarano Bianchi Michiel was commissioned by Count Giacomo Angarano to his good friend Andrea Palladio. The design of the villa is included in the “Four Books of Architecture” by A. Palladio.
Works began in 1556 but the main building remained unfinished. The current structure of the Villa presents two arcades (barchesse) that are typical of the Palladian style and a central body plant expression of the typical Baroque style. The central body was built between the late seventeenth century and the early eighteenth century by the Venetian architect Domenico Margutti, pupil of Baldassare Longhena.
The front facade of the “Barchessa” on the right side of the Villa hosts the noble church of St. Mary Magdalene, also attributed to Margutti. The statues in the compound are eighteen. Four of these, representing holy subjects, stand inside the church and are attributed to Giacomo Cassetti said Marinali (1682-1750), a sculptor of great artistic value.
Within the nobles of Vicenza, Giacomo Angarano is one of the closest friends of Palladio. This is confirmed by the fact that the architect not only dedicates to Giacomo Angarano the first two books of his treatise on architecture (the Four Books on Architecture) but also develops three magnificent projects in his favor: the palace in Vicenza, which hosted in 1564 the marriage of Palladio’s daughter, the bridge over the river and the Villa Cismon in Bassano. The Palladio writes in his books than the Villa Angarano enjoyed the proximity of the river Brenta. The river was important for satisfying the primary need of water, but was also navigable and abundant of fish. In the “Four Books on Architecture” an interesting note of Palladio is dedicated to the local delicacies such as wine and fruits:
“This place is renowned for its precious wines and fruits, but even more for the courtesy of its lord.”
In 1546 Giacomo Angarano married Bianca Nievo, daughter of Galeazzo and Paola Thiene.
In 1588 Stefano Angarano, Giacomo’ son, died and Giacomo was forced to sell part of its assets, including the Villa Angarano, in order to return the dowry to the widow of his son. As a result the original Palladian project was not completed as scheduled, and the impending sale of the Villa to the Formentis, a wealthy Venetian family, finally stopped the process of the construction site. The complex of Villa Angarano firs passed to Jerome Molin, husband of Cornelia Formenti, and then to Paolo Gradenigo, who in 1654 married Maria Molin.
The Gardenigo, senators of the Republic of Venice, are responsible for the most important changes to the Villa, erecting the central body of the complex as we can see today. We can clearly understand this reading Maria Molin Gardenigo’s will (dated 1669) where she gives precise indications regarding the reconstruction of the Villa. The works then ended in the early years of the eighteenth century. In the last two centuries the Villa changed its ownership from a family to another.
Form the Gradenigos passed to the Pisanis and then in the early nineteenth century finally found its new owners in the Venetian Doge family of the Michiel’s. Nowadays the Villa is owned by five sisters Carla, Giovanna, Anna, Maruzza and Isabella Bianchi Michiel who are well aware of the great historical heritage acquired from their ancestors. The fife sisters manage the Villa with passion in great harmony with their respective families and are extremely committed to preserve the Villa in its original splendor.
The history of the agricultural production process in that area has instead much older origins than the mid-1500.
In the proximity of the Villa have been discovered the ruins of a rural villa dating back to the Roman Empire (second century A.C.) that has been discovered to be an agricultural center manly focused on the production of wine, oil and wheat. Other most ancient settlements dating back to the bronze age of the “paleoveneti” were located near the Castellaro hill on the slopes of Monte Grappa.
The first known document that gives us a portrait of the agricultural landscape of that area in the Middle Ages is the “Regestum Possessionum Comunis Vincencie” dated 1262. This document also describes the fields with vineyards placed in the area of the Villa Angarano. The Register (Regesto) was compiled by the Council of Vicenza immediately after the end of the Ezzelini’s in order to take a census of the goods in the territory of Vicenza.
In the following centuries the agricultural lands in the district of Quare remained fragmented but mainly owned by the Angarano’s family first and their successors then, until, thanks to gradual acquisitions, most of the lands surrounding the Villa have been fastened together in a unique productive machine.
The farm with its vineyards, olive groves and fields flourished throughout the 1800s. The Villa luckily passed unscathed the First World War, fought hard in the Monte Grappa area, and was preserved unchanged until the middle of 1900. In the 60s of the 1900s a new road was marked through the county of Quare and the transformation of the urban planning and landscape began to the present day.