Villa Pisani ‘La Rocca’ at Lonigo (VI)


Lonigo, 140 m/460 feet above sea level, Via Rocca; train station at Lonigo on the Milano-Venezia line about 4 km/2.5 miles to the northwest.

This villa was constructed between 1576 and 1579 on behalf of the noble Venetian family, the Pisani, owners of vast lands in the area of Lonigo (the township in which one also finds Villa Pisani at Bagnolo); design of the project was entrusted to the still young Vincenzo Scamozzi.  The villa is set at the high point of a small hill that overlooks the town of Lonigo and was built on the foundations of a medieval fortress from which it gets its nickname rocca [Italian for fortress.  RB].

Often compared to the nearby Villa la Rotonda of Palladio, for a long time it was considered an unconvincing copy.  This negative assessment has been altered over time; it is in fact a work to be judged on its own and among the most significant works of Scamozzi; it is particularly attractive for its panoramic setting which makes it visible from a great distance.

The plan is a square surmounted by a cupola as at Villa Rotonda, but by contrast, at this villa only one facade has a portico, but that is recessed, with six Ionic columns and a single wide stairway in front; the other three facades employ a simpler motif of a Serliana [Palladian window] and without any stairways.  By contrast, the Palladio design has four porticos that extend out from the main building block.  Another major difference is in the plan organization; whereas the Palladio plan strives for perfect centrality, the Scamozzi plan is clearly directional.

The villa, after several changes of ownership, is now the property of the Ferri family; it may be visited only during the spring (March-April) and the fall (October-November) by groups and by first making an appointment.

Latest visit 8 December 2014.

All photos by Paolo Bonavoglia, unless indicated otherwise.

For an overall interactive map of the Veneto, showing all these villas and many more, please see this custom Google map.