Lunch with Venetian Nobility

If you were to drive through the tiny village of Vanzo and blinked, you would miss one of the most beautiful villas in the Veneto. It is the home of Count and Countess Giustiniani who are descended from a 17th century Doge of Venice, and who live in a white Palladian-style villa designed by Longhena who was the architect of the Salute Church on the Grand Canal in Venice.

I found myself there recently, invited for lunch to discuss the history of the family and villa so that I can write an article about it. We ate in the kitchen, the former wine cellar but now a lovely characterful space with brick columns and a huge fireplace, as well as a resident snake which curls around a pipe for warmth in winter.

The main rooms are frescoed, and in particular the winter garden room is stunning because it is painted as if you are in a loggia, looking though to a series of conical hills, clearly the Colli Euganei, extinct volcanoes about 10 miles away.

The gardens and avenue of lime trees take up a lot of time and effort. Count Lorenzo says they get up at 5 am in summer to work on the rose beds before the heat of the day.

Now they’re thinking of opening their home to the public. It will be a treat to visit, especially since visitors will get a personal guided tour including prosecco!

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