Yesterday’s jewel, a treasure of today
Shortly after 1554, Marco Zeno bought the Cessalto estate and commissioned Andrea Palladio in the building of his new residency in the Trevigiano area. And so, Villa Zeno was born and went on to be considered one of the most well-known works of Palladio. Today, the villa has been accredited by UNESCO the title of world heritage site. The villa remains the property of direct ascendants of the Zeno family and is a gem of Venetian history which is slowly being restored to its former glory.
The importance of Villa Zeno was recognised by Palladio himself who included it in his work “Quattro Libri dell’archittetura”. Palladio’s project for this villa was based upon an existing structure.
This in fact explains why the plans are very unlike those for the other villas he designed. Another difference is the abandoning of the elements commonly used for façades, that is a loggia to the rear and a smooth face. Here we simply see a sort of checkerboard of windows.
The general layout of the villa with its vast open courtyard can also be seen at Villa Sareceno in Finale di Agugliaro and at Villa Pojana in Pojana Maggiore. Like the former, Villa Zeno has porticoes adjoining the main building and simple passageways to the actual “barchesse” (rural buildings typical of villas in the Veneto similar to barns).
In 1996 the villa was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Marco Zeno’s direct descendents are today involved in the restoration and conservation of the villa which has become an important part of Italian architectural and cultural heritage. This has been further made possible thanks to the donation of the “Gal Terre di Marca”. This permitted the restoration of the roof, both the primary and secondary wooden structures, all the external doors and windows, ceilings and plastering.
The villa has also been the object of numerous studies carried out by the “Università di Padova” and the “Università di Venezia” as well as a survey conducted by the architect C. Di Thiene on behalf of the “Istituto Ville Venete”. In addition to these studies a schemealso exists to attract sponsors interested in investing in important cultural and entrepreneurial projects connected to the villa’s existing heritage.