Frequented by Casanova, Galileo, Byron and d'Annunzio; painted by Tiepolo and Canaletto; praised by Goethe and Goldoni, the Brenta Riviera hosted royalty from France and Russia; Napoleon, the Habsburgs and the Savoys stayed there.
"A river - Gabriele D'Annunzio will write in the Fire - a magnificent and glorious time in the sonnets of the Cicisbei abbots when the burchielli full of music and pleasures descended for its current"
"The banks on either side of this river are all full of palaces and the delightful habitations of the nobles, and more opulent citizens, with Horti, Giardini, and well-populated villages, as such, that those who sail above it seems to go to pleasure in the middle of a city for the course of 16 miles which almost form a continuous village, which unites the metropolis of that state with the city of Padua ". (1697 Vincenzo Coronelli)
On April 17, 1345 the Major Council of the Republic of Venice repealed the law which until then had prohibited the citizens of the Serenissima from purchasing land on the mainland and so part of the interests of the patrician Veneto moved to the hinterland and along the banks of the Brenta .
The possibility of intensifying the exploitation of the possessions on the mainland posed the problem of how to closely control production. This is how country residences were born which functionally and aesthetically interpreted the new needs and in one complex they brought together the manor house and the buildings intended for the various services; various types of villa were born, the villa-company for those who found in agriculture a new source of wealth; the villa - temple, a meeting place for artists and intellectuals; the villa - palace, representative building and venue for large parties and banquets.
Great architects such as Palladio, Scamozzi, Frigimelica, Preti created summer residences for Venetian nobles and patricians who spent their "holiday" period on the mainland and the Brenta Riviera was transformed into a long and continuous succession of Villas, Palaces and gardens for which was defined as a continuation of the Grand Canal of Venice.
Here, not far from the city, the wealthiest patricians spent their holidays, starting from Venice in a gondola or peote or with comfortable boats called burchielli that went up the Navigable Canal of the Brenta; these boats were pushed by oars from S. Marco, across the Venetian lagoon to Fusina, from where they were pulled by horses to Padua.
It was the time of the craving of the holiday during which, as Goldoni wrote, "everyone enjoys immense freedom, big games, open tables, dance parties and shows were held." Burchiello's journey was fascinating and fun; in the slow progress between the villas and the weeping willows, ladies and cicisbei, nobles and adventurers, comedians and artists animated the life on board making the river journey picturesque and pleasant. It was also used, in the time of the holiday, "to go for villas", and the cheerful brigades dragged from one villa to another, from one party to another.
As in the past, even today, Il Burchiello, which has become a scheduled tourism service, retraces the Brenta Riviera from Padua to Venice and vice versa. And other boats also sail along the Riviera del Brenta; some are modern, made of metal, others are traditional and romantic wooden boats such as burci (or burchi).
Heirs of ancient traditions, these modern, comfortable and panoramic boats ply the waters of the Brenta with a slow pace, while the guides on board illustrate the history, culture and art witnessed by the Ville del Brenta.
Following the historical route of the ancient Venetian burchielli of the '700, the journey begins in Padua and, passing five locks, which allow you to descend a water level of about 10 meters; and nine revolving bridges, will end in Venice in Piazza San Marco.
Starting from Padua, along the Piovego, from the Chiusa delle Porte Contarine or from the Portello, the ancient river port of Padua, and skirting the walls and the ancient sixteenth-century bastions, immersed in the thick and lush vegetation, you pass the ancient bridge of the Graissi and you reaches the superb Villa Giovanelli. Then, after crossing the Noventa Padovana lock with descent of water level, the Trunk Master of the Brenta river and the Strà lock, where a drop of water descends, you reach the imposing Villa Pisani in Strà; with the rooms frescoed by Tiepolo and Guarana, the spectacular stables and the famous labyrinth, a mirror of the eighteenth-century Venetian civilization and its getting lost and finding itself in the game of history.The navigation then continues and here is Villa Soranzo in Fiesso with the exterior entirely frescoed ; and then Villa Angeli in Dolo, designed by Scamozzi; a stop at the Ancient Molini of the 16th century in Dolo and then cross the Chiusa di Dolo which allows you to descend the water jump.
And still you navigate between ancient villages, passing small villages and nine revolving bridges, admiring the beautiful facades of the over 70 Venetian Villas that line the Naviglio del Brenta.
In Mira another lock allows the boat to descend again the difference in water of more than two meters. The navigation then continues passing various villas including Villa Widman and Villa Barchessa Valmarana, the ancient village of Oriago and Villa Gradenigo from the 16th century.
This leads to Malcontenta where you can admire in all its elegance Villa Foscari, called La Malcontenta, a monumental masterpiece of Palladio's genius, a typical example of Villa Tempio with its monumental pronaos that is reflected melancholy and superb in the waters of the canal.
And still sailing you pass the Chiusa di Moranzani, descending the last difference in water, and shortly after you arrive in Venice in the magical scenery of the Bacino di S.Marco where the fantastic journey ends.