Villa/Palazzo Moro, Oriago di Mira (VE)

Viewable from the upper deck of the Burchiello


Oriago, a district of Mira, altitude 4 m/13 feet above sea level; train station at Oriago on the Venezia-Adria line, or at Venezia Mestre about 4 km/2.5 miles to the northeast. The villa is located along the Ciclopista del Brenta [the bike route along the Brenta].

Among the many villas constructed along the Riviera del Brenta, unfortunately there are all too many that are abandoned or in poorly maintained condition. One such example is the Villa Moro at Oriago, constructed between the end of the fifteenth century and 1508, for the Venetian Moro family.

The villa has the appearance of a Venetian palazzo, and therefore is known also as Cà Moro [Cà is short for casa and is frequently used in Venetian dialect to refer to house or palazzo. RB] or Palazzo Moro, and contains fifteenth century frescoes; currently (January 2012) the villa appears to be abandoned and cannot be visited. However, the town of Mira is preparing for its restoration.

Today, the most visible and well known element of this villa is the plaque with two triplets from Canto V of Dante’s Purgatory, placed on the facade in 1893.

But if towards the Mira I had fled,
When I was overtaken at Oriaco,
I still should be o'er yonder where men breathe.

I ran to the lagoon, and reeds and mire
Did so entangle me I fell, and saw there
A lake made from my veins upon the ground.


In the Canto, these verses were recounted by Jacopo del Cassero, podestà [mayor] of Bologna who, when elected to become podestà of Milano in 1298, attempted to reach his new home by way of Venice [in order to avoid crossing the lands of the rival Este family. RB], but while he found himself in the territory of Oriago, he was attacked by the henchmen of Azzo VIII d’Este, lord of Ferrara and his arch enemy*, who wounded him severely. Jacopo managed to escape into the marshes, but there became so entangled in the reeds that he bled to death from his wounds, as Dante so starkly reminds us in these triplets.

*In the verses immediately preceding, Jacopo described Azzo as:

'Twas he of Este had it done, who held me
In hatred far beyond what justice willed.

All photos by Paolo Bonavoglia

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