VILLA EMO’S ECOSYSTEM
FORESTRY AND HUSBANDRY AT VILLA EMO
Villa Emo’s estate is an extraordinary example of the style of the Venetian Villas, testimony of a bygone era in which man knew how to merge art and beauty to the hard labour in the fields, which also provided a solid monetary return. This was at the heart of the Venetian Patriciate, that had moved from the lagoon and rediscovered the mainland creating il Veneto, a hub of know-how which made this territory great in the second half of the 20th century.
What gives even more importance to this site are the national and international certifications which highlight the historical and artistic aspects of Villa Emo: from the certification from the heritage department regarding the Emo Capodilista archive to the Villa’s inclusion into the UNESCO world heritage sites. The impressive site that includes the old village, rural buildings, the garden, the orchard and the agricultural land is subject to restrictions under the regulation concerning the declaration of cultural interest within articles 10 and 13 of the legislative decree no.42 dated 22nd January 2004, (Code for Cultural and Landscape Heritage) in accordance with the article 10 of the law 137, dated 6th July 2002.
The agricultural landscape into which Villa Emo is set, almost a silent witness of the passed 450 years of history, holds within itself important environmental and biodiversity elements, which are expertly managed by the Fondazione Villa Emo Onlus, as well as the artistic ones. The Villa’s relationship with water is paramount; this most important asset was diverted here from the river Piave more than 500 years ago to water the fields, by means of an intricate network of ditches, drains and canals which today represent the borders of fields and properties. The vivid memory of an agricultural society which used its hydraulic knowledge and wise use of the asset, to lay the basis of its own well-being is perpetuated by the historical Consorzio di Bonifica Bretella which is now part of the Consorzio di Bonifica Piave.
From the water to the fruits of the earth such as corn and grapes. The cereal brought over from America by Christopher Columbus, reaches the shores of Spain where the Venetian patricians discover the novelty and introduce the cereal throughout the countryside and farmsteads of the Serenissima. For more than four centuries the pearl white variety represented an important source of wealth for the Emo family and the livelihood of the many peasants and tenant farmers on the land. Nowadays this crop still exists thanks to the Foundation which also owns an experimental vineyard where ancient Venetian vines, known of since the 7th century, are grown together with mulberry, traditionally known as morer or moraro. The mulberry leaves were once indispensable as food for the silkworm, another important aspect of Villa Emo’s agricultural and industrial history. At the moment the vineyard is currently planted with 3000 metres of red grapes of the Recantina, Forner and Pecolo Scuro varieties, which are currently authorized and registered as Protected Designation of Origin Montello and Colli Asolani.
Beside the vineyard that lies in the vast agricultural spaces in front of Villa Emo, the park which surrounds it, represents another important environmental resource. Long gone the original Palladian layout, the park has undergone many changes throughout the years until the current configuration, where vast lawns and areas with tall trees merge with traces of the 19th century romantic Garden. The green area to the north is planted with mixed-grass following the principles of sustainability suggested to the farms by the Fondazione Villa Emo Onlus, the institution the villa collaborates with. The farms adhere to the Community protocols for the protection of agri-environmental land; for this reason, when the grass is mowed, a plot is left to grow to provide food and home for insects, birds and small mammals which live in the park. The same principle of conservation in equilibrium with nature, within the concept of the romantic garden, is applied to the small woodland to the east of the park where, during autumn, a layer of leaves and some old branches are left to decay organically.