Villa Duodo at Monselice
Villa Duodo stands halfway up Rocca di Monselice hill, where the old Castle of St. George used to stand, one of the lower defences in the fortification system of the fortress. Francesco Duodo, Procurator of St. Mark in 1587 and enthusiastic collector with pontifical leanings, and his brother Domenic bought the land between 1589 and 1591: however the Duodo brothers had already declared there was a house on the hills back in 1582. It was also the site of an old church dedicated to St. George, which Pope Clement VIII authorised to be demolished in view of the construction of the new church. As the Veneto historian Tommaso Temanza said first, the architect for the Duodo Villa in Monselice was Vincenzo Scamozzi, who designed a real complex built over three sections all closely joined to each other; the residence was next to a small church and oratory with a dome, which was the height of a liturgical itinerary covering six chapels on the hills, which stood at the side of the main entrance to the complex. This part of the complex is the result of work by Pietro Duodo, son of Francesco who gained permission from Pope Paul VI in 1605 to build a holy mountain, unique in the Veneto, where the pilgrims would have received the same spiritual benefits that were granted to the faithful Christians who went to the seven major basilicas in Rome. The strong papal spirit in the design of the villa and outhouses was not the only guiding thread in the late 16th century construction: Scamozzi gave a very original relationship to the new building, which was started in 1589, and the old brick structures. The main entrance led straight to the old fortress, which was incorporated and turned into a sort of open-air hall, with the walls broken up by a series of square pilasters which framed three arched openings, which in turn corresponded to three different views of the surrounding countryside. During the 18th century, Nicolò Duodo called on the Venetian architect Andrea Tirali to extend the complex, when a new building was placed at right angles to the 16th century one; a garden was now made in front of the villa with a fountain, which was bordered off down the slope by an attractive flight of steps that ended in an exedra. The complex was renovated in the 1960s and still conserves intact all its fascination and charm.