Going along the Brenta Riviera on the Burchiello is a one-of-a-kind experience: a dive into the past of noble venetians who used this boat to reach the lush summer villas in Veneto.
The Venetian Burchiello
The old path of the Brenta Riviera on the Burchiello dates back to the 1700 and unfolds between opulent villas along the Brent canal, a branch of the river, between Padua and Venice. The Burchiello is a wood transport which was used by rich people from Venice to reach their summer residences. At the time when Venice was known as the powerful Serenissima, the elegant boat was equipped with a central cabin decorated with carved wood and with balconies. It moved through rowing and it travelled along the waters that connected Venice to Fusina, where then it was towed by horses up to Padua.
The trip lasted about a day, so the cabin had all the comforts you can think of; furthermore, it was customary to stop in a variety of residences along the way to take part in parties and functions. The charm of this area appealed to many celebritied of that time, other than French and Russian royals, the Brenta Riviera was attended by also: Napoleon Bonaparte, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Lord Byron, Casanova and many others. Writer Carlo Goldoni even dedicated a small poem to this venetian means of transportation called “Il Burchiello di Padova”.
Today the Burchiello has become a modern motorboat, with compartments and scenic deck, offering small cruises that retrace the old path to Venice. The sailing on the Brenta Canal is very characteristic because there are many swing bridges that you get to cross, and sluices that allow the boat to go up or down of about 10 meters. But the true attraction are the wonderful villas of aristocratic Venetian people.
the Brenta Riviera by Burchiello: a trip to the most famous villas
Villa Pisani Museo Nazionale in Stra
Certainly the biggest and the most spectacular of the entire journey of the Brenta Riviera by Burchiello, Villa Pisani Reale was built in the XVIII century by the homonymous rich family from Venice. A work by architect Francesco Maria Preti, it is characterized by an impressive facade with Corinthian columns, and it feature a beautiful terrace supported by huge caryatids. A scenic lake unfolds in the northern part of the residence making the garden that extra cool. Just as the outside, the inside of the villa is particularly sumptuous: the walls of the rooms are richly decorated and the ceilings are finely painted. The majestic ball room leaves one breathless, particularly due to the huge fresco depicting the glory and the power of the Pisani family, painted by Giambattista Tiepolo.
Villa Widmann in Mira
Villa Widmann was built toward the end of the eighteenth century by the Sceriman family, noble merchants of Persian origin, and it was then passed on to the Widmann family. The complex includes the main residence, a small church and a barchessa, a typical Venetian building destined to be used as working areas featuring a suggestive portico. The core of the villa is simple and elegant, the interiors are opulent and luxurious in French rococo style. The main hall comes with some of the richest frescoes of all the Brenta riviera: lavish vaults frame spectacular mythical scenes. The residence was one of the most attended by famous guests, such as the already mentioned Carlo Goldoni. The garden surrounding the mansion is a huge fairytale-like park with statues of goddesses and nymphs.
Villa Foscari a Mira
Villa Foscari, also called “La Malcontenta” (the unhappy one), was created in 1559 by Andrea Palladio for Nicolò and Alvise Foscari, who belonged to one of the most important Venetian families. The architecture of the villa, very similar to that of a temple, seems to have been conceived to stand as a symbol of their power. The massive facade of this residence stands out for gable supported by a majestic colonnade and for the structure placed on a high base; two huge identical stairways act as entry point. The back facade is representative of the workmanship of the architect: the windows are located so as to let outside see the inside layout of the villa.
Cover Image: rendez-vous-fantasia