(by Elisabetta Tosi) When the warm season opens, many people like to go on a countryside picnic. Thankfully, the Veneto region is prodigal with destinations suitable for this purpose, more or less well-known. Among the favorite destinations are the hills and, in some lucky cases, even the parks of ancient Venetian villas.
Villa dei Vescovi, in Luvignano di Torreglia (Padova), is one destination we recommend.
It is a beautiful 16th-century mansion protected by the Fondo Ambiente Italiano, the nonprofit foundation established in 1975 on the model of the National Trust that aims to preserve and enhance Italy’s historical, artistic, and landscape heritage.
Villa dei Vescovi takes this name from its first owner: Francesco Pisani, bishop of Padua. More than a pastor of souls, Pisani liked to consider himself a Renaissance prince, so in 1535 he had a classical-style villa built not far from the city. He wanted a venue for his intellectual circle where the countryside could inspire them to have elevated thoughts and reflections (which were considered essential for good governance). The villa was designed by Veronese architect Giovan Maria Falconetto in compliance with these ideals, with the input of Giulio Romano. Even nowadays, this villa is a magnificent sample of Humanist culture, where architecture, art, and landscape engage in a continuous visual exchange through loggias and terraces to enhance the well-being of those who visit. The beauty of the natural landscape is reflected in the idealized panoramas of the loggias and the interiors, which are entirely covered in frescoes by Flemish painter Lambert Sustris.
All around the building, a series of vineyards give way to the verdant geometries of the walled garden. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the villa’s heartwarming ambiance and enjoy a day of creative leisure (otium): children and pets are welcome, and if you want to spend some days living like a prince of the Renaissance, you can book the guest accommodations: the excellent Orchard Loft, or the Vineyard Loft. Furthermore, the villa often hosts food and wine events, small exhibitions, and other cultural initiatives open to the public, so watch for the Euganean Hills Wine Road calendar. The park surrounding the manor has plenty of room to have a picnic, but if you still need to remember your basket in the villa, there is even a small bistro, where you can taste some local food paired with a good bottle of wine.
And speaking about wine, Ca’ Lustra Winery is another destination you will take advantage of. It’s located in Faedo di Cinto Euganeo (Padova), in the heart of the Euganean Hills Regional Park. It was founded by Angelo Zanovello in mid-60 and reached real fame with his son Franco in 1977. It is now managed by Franco’s children, Marco and Linda, along with some passionate collaborators. The farm extends over 45 hectares, but only 25 are planted with vineyards; the rest is grazing land or olive trees. The production philosophy is based on sustainable practices and deep respect for the different characteristics of the Euganean Hills territory, from the generous volcanic soils to the much drier marine sediments. As their dad Franco before them, Marco and Linda support the variability of each vineyard with patience and experience to safeguard the natural environment and the biodiversity and enhance the originality of their “cru”. Love for history, research, and innovation has always been a strength of this winery, and still, they are. Thus along with the classic Ca’ Lustra labels of Moscato, Merlot, Manzoni Bianco, Fior d’Arancio, Cabernet, and so on, in their wine shop, you can also find Prove d’Autore, (“Author’s Proofs”), a few experimental wines. These wines are unique, every year different and impossible to replicate every year, and that makes the visit even more unforgettable.
Villa Dei Vescovi: Via dei Vescovi, 4 – Luvignano di Torreglia, Padua
Openings: Friday, Feb. 25 to Sunday, Oct. 1
Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Last admission 5 p.m.)
To book a visit: https://fai.midaticket.it/Event/9/Dates