Following in the Steps of Palladio

Friends of Drayton Hall Visit the Veneto

September 20  In Venice we enjoyed a day filled with blue, blue skies and sunshine.  “A Privileged View of the Veneto” tour is based on the history of the Republic of Venice and how, during times of peace, artists like Palladio thrived.  We toured by private boat and went to the heart of the empire.  We visited the Accademia Galleries to view masterpieces from the Renaissance period.  Beginning with Giotto in the 14th century Renaissance artists began displaying feelings on the faces of their subjects.  We saw Titian, Tintoretto, Carpaccio, Tieplio, Bellini….from there we took a boat to one of Palladio’s last commissions, Il Redentore.  But not before celebrating George’s birthday with a huge cake (his birthday was on the 18th, but we surprised him)!  He was given one candle to make a wish!!  The cake was beyond delicious…cream cake… the bottom had a thin layer of pure chocolate, cake, cream and more cake with chips of chocolate!!  We gained a few pounds on the spot!  All left happy and full, not only with cake, but with new knowledge about the genius of Palladio.

September 21  Yesterday we did not return from Mantua until 7:30 PM, but everyone was fascinated with the city.  Mantua is a beautiful city surrounded by lakes.  Palazzo Te was originally a stable converted to a palace for Frederico’s mistress Isabella.  The frescos by Romano especially the room of the giants are shocking both from size and subject matter!  The cobblestone town with Palazzo Ducale in the center is a quaint, beautiful building.  We had wonderful local guide.  Although the day was long, everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.  Mantua was a recommendation of Carl Gable…off the beaten path.  He hit a homerun for us.

Sept 22  The morning began early – a private tour of La Rotonda led by a member of the Valmarana family.  Once again we had clear blue skies and sunshine.  Designed in 1566, Palladio includes the Rotonda in the palace section of the Quattro Libri, rather than with the villas because it is more of a villa-temple expressing a higher order and harmony.  Palladio almost seems to have been bent on contructing an ideal model of his own architecture. (See Beltramini,  Andrea Palladio – Villas: Guide,for more information)  La Rotonda is located on a hill with views on all sides, and doors opening to nature and the universe.  Palladio designed the structure without frescos , although later frescos were added on the interior center.  Following our tour of La Rotonda, we visted the oldest surviving Renaissance theater.  Modeled by Palladio after his studies of several ancient theaters, it gives the illusion of being outside, although it is contained within a building.  We were treated to a surprise recording of Renaissance music.  Originally there were only oil lamps and the first performance was Oedipus Rex beginning at 11p.m. and lasting until 5 a.m.  The tragedies were to be a full experience not just a night at the theatre.  Palladio died before seeing the completion of the theater.  He was 72.  The rest of the afternoon included a walking tour of Vicenza, we also enjoyed some free time.

 -Monte Parsons

One thought on “Following in the Steps of Palladio

  1. Hello everybody,
    I’m Lorenzo Bonoldi, the local guide who led the group in Mantua. I would like to send my greeting to every member of the Drayton Hall Delegation travelling in Veneto. I’ve really adored this group of art lovers… after dozens and dozens of “Italian Desperate Housewives” it’s been a great pleasure for me to lead such a group!
    Thanks for having paid a visit to my city, Mantua.
    Best wishes and regards to all of you.


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