Venetian Villas: Villa Emo
Born as a farm in the countryside, it is the first Palladian Villa
Villa Emo at Fanzolo (a village near Bassano, Treviso and Castelfranco Veneto) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most famous work by Andrea Palladio, who widely talks about it in his masterpiece “The Four Books on Architecture”. Villa Emo is also the most symbolic between Venetian Villas, because of its history and structure: it is at the same time both a noble palace and a farm.
By the 16th century, the nobleman Leonardo Emo from Venice decided to invest in land and bought a big farm. He was a capable venetian entrepreneur, cultured and determined. He decided to reclaim the area, innovate the farming, rationalize the work, build some mills. His innovative irrigation system and the excavation of new canals are still working today.
He has been the first who introduced the corn-growing to make flour to feed people not just animals. You can say that mr Emo is the inventor of… polenta! Polenta is a dish symbol of this Italian region, Veneto, which in history fed so many people. It is so important that Venetian people use to be known as “Polentoni” (that is made of Polenta).
But there’s something mysterious about this story: where did the corncob that Emo grew come from? The corn growing in this farm looks quite strange still today, it is paler than the normal one. What if this actually was Turkish-corn and not American-corn? By the way I’ve taken some samples to grow in my garden.
Leonardo Emo started with farming, then he decided to have a house-villa built by Palladio, the archi-star of the time. Villa Emo is a temple of the land: in the middle of the building lays the farmyard, a staircase brings to the upper side of the house, then there are two other buildings, the Barchesse and Torri Colombare, used for farming. The whole structure is regulated by a regular perspective that follows the roman system of organization. The interior is wonderful, frescoed by Zelotti.