Villa Serego at Santa Sofia [Verona]


San Pietro in Cariano, a district of Pedemonte, Santa Sofia, Province of Verona, 105 m/345 feet above sea level; train station at Domegliara 5 km/3 miles to the west, or at Verona 11 km/7 miles to the southeast.

On bicycle the villa is reachable from the Ciclabile dell’Adige [Adige River bike route] or directly from Chievo, a district of Verona [called Piazza Chievo on Google maps.  RB], by crossing the bridge over the Adige, continuing along the Lungadige Attiraglio as far as the village of Parona; from here taking Via Valpolicella and then Via Ca` Dede as far as the district of Pedemonte, where one first sees the main entrance of the villa, but that is always closed, then in the distance at a crossing to the right, the Santa Sofia winery, which currently provides the only access to the villa; it may be visited only as part of a guided tour of the winery and only on two Sundays per year, one in May, the other in November.

This is perhaps the most unusual, singular and hidden away of the Palladio villas: it is the only one in the Province of Verona; it is unique in having at its center, not the volume of the main house, but the void of a courtyard; and unique in the use of columns of rusticated stone.

Count Marc’Antonio Serego(*) commissioned the villa sometime between 1552, when he came into possession of the land, and 1565.

(*)In Latin texts of the time the surname is spelled Saerego and from this the two Italian versions are derived: Sarego and Serego.  In the Second Book of Architecture Palladio uses the first, Sarego, but the family subsequently was to use the Serego version; and, after the marriage of Marc'Antonio with Ginevra Alighieri, a descendant of Dante, they took the name of Serego Alighieri or Serego degli Alighieri.

The Palladio design was grandiose and visionary, perhaps on the model of the Roman house, a large courtyard at the center surrounded by a double-height portico at the ground floor and at the main floor; of particular interest and visually striking are the columns, absolutely unusual for having an unfinished appearance and being divided into horizontal disks.

Of the original design only the northern half of the villa (left side of the drawing) was started, then work was suspended probably for lack of funds and the entire complex fell into ruin; during the nineteenth century the villa was restored by completing only the first half and adding service buildings.

Today the main part of the villa and the grounds are privately owned and not open to visitors, and virtually invisible due to the high walls surrounding the complex, while the buildings to the northwest house the Santa Sofia winery that produces quality wines typical of the region: Amarone, Recioto and Valpolicella.

Latest visit 10 November 2013.

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.