Villa Valmarana at Saonara

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On the southern borders of Saonara, on the lower Padua plain, the Cittadella Vigodarzere complex (now Villa Valmarana) stands. Read More
Villa Valmarana at Saonara

On the southern borders of Saonara, on the lower Padua plain, the Cittadella Vigodarzere complex (now Villa Valmarana) stands, which is the result of repeated work by the Venetian architect Giuseppe Jappelli, which began in 1816 and continued until the last years of his life until he died in 1852. The first client was Knight Antonio Vigodarzere (1766-1835), and then his nephew and adopted son Andrea Cittadella (1804-1870). Antonio Vigodarzere took the initiative to use 13 hectares of the property in Saonara to make a garden, where he had more than 35,000 trees planted to surround and complete the master house. He also wanted to give work to the local people, who were struck by famine. Jappelli arranged the garden over a large square area, surrounded by ditches, with the northwest section behind the barchessa used as an orchard and fruit grove. The entrance is at the side of the central plan temple next to the road, where the cenotaph of Antonio Vigodarzere is conserved, sculpted by Rinaldo Rinaldi who was a pupil of Canova. There are two entrances to the property that open at the sides of the temple. The left one leads to the farmyard and the right one leads to the path leading to the large elliptical lawn that the garden overlooks, which was also designed by Jappelli. In this part of the garden there is a wooded hill and smaller hillocks, with the remains of columns and statues to simulate ruins between those to the southeast. To the north the hillocks are higher and the rocky opening of a tunnel can be seen in the wood that leads to the jagged outline lake. On the western peninsula of the lake there is a small modern chalet surrounded by ruins. This is where the artificial hill stood which concealed the caves, but which were destroyed during the Second World War. To the west of the lake is the Knight Templars’ Chapel, in neo-gothic style with clear Masonic meanings. Inside there is a burial ground with fake tombs built with some of the parts taken from the old church of St. Augustine in Padua, which was destroyed in 1817-1818. From the wall in the burial ground a passage leads to the Judgement Chapel, which is circular with a domed ceiling. This room opened to the hypogeum path that led to the large cave, where visitors were surprised by the 4 meter giant simulacrum of Baffomet, a regenerating divinity with the attributes of Cybele and Venus. Saonara now belongs to Count Lodovico Valmarana, heir of the Cittadella Vigodarzere, who has had the garden restored over the last years.