The property is located in the municipality of strà. No one knows who built the house, or who designed it, but it was frescoed by cerruti, known as il pittocchetto, who worked in padua and venice between 1720 and 1740. The benzis were landowners already in 1537. In 1711 three of the benzi brothers inherited one third each of the property, then consisting of: mansion with granary, salt storeroom and kitchen garden. Between 1940 and 1960 it was used as a kennel. In 1966, ernesto smania bought it from countess lazzara, restored it and brought it to its current splendor. On the north side (facing the canal), the villa is a simple, two-story building with a garret. The garden extends toward the canal with a lane, on the right of which is an interesting rose garden consisting of more than 200 plants with roots that go back to the early 19th century, and an ice house, built under an artificial hill. On the left of the lane is the formal garden, which the current owner has kept in the style of the days when venice was still “the serenissima”. One of the main features of this villa is the ballroom on the ground floor, one of the few t-shaped rooms. The frescoes by cerruti on the ground floor depict the sower of tares who waits for the farmer to fall asleep on his bag of seeds, to sow tares in the field, the disloyal bailiff who, finding the farmer late with his rent, as the ledger in his hands shows, suggests to the farmer to pay only half his debt, and pay off the other half by giving hospitality to the bailiff, the parable of the treasure, the parable of the sterile fig tree, the cornucopia with fruit. On the floor of the small sitting room on the left we can see the coat of arms of the benzi family. The wording under it reads pellegrinazio et milizia, pilgrimage because there was the pilgrim, military service because there were many military officers in the benzi family, three oysters that symbolize the sea as the members of the family were admirals. The property was a summer “cottage”, where the family mainly came for holidays, so there are no fireplaces in the main rooms and no shutters on the upper floor, as the owner liked to enjoy the fresh air that came through the arches open on the northern and southern façades of the building. These openings were called serliane after the architect (serlio) who first studied them.
THE ICE HOUSE:
Built for storage of ice. Its particular interest is due to the fact that it differs from all the others, with the normal cupola on top, but with the part underground built in the shape of an upturned cone. After 1820, the Austrian government ordered every municipality to build one for the conservation of ice in the summer. Jappelli had worked next door to this villa on the construction of the clock tower at Villa Mazza-Pisani, and had also worked on the construction of a lovely little castle on the river bank, so it is quite possible that he created this structure, as part of a project to landscape the garden, which is very well kept. Now it is used as a museum for containers in glass, porcelain and terracotta.
YOU CAN VISIT:
the frescoed interiors, garden and icehouse
Contact us for the schedule of days and times of guided tours
section E – go to the map