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The façade of Villa Emo

The positioning of Villa Emo in the wider property is based on two directions that are perpendicular to each other, a horizontal one which is the villa itself and a vertical one which is the path leading to the villa, originally completely tree-lined with poplars, which in the XVI century represented an important road sign for passing travellers in the land of the Emo family. From the architectural point of view the central body in the villa façade immediately stands out. It is slightly projecting with respect to the axis of the two barchesse and is characterized by the distinctive features of the classical façade, like the pronaos, typical of a Greek temple, that is the four Doric columns and the decorated pediment. The pronaos is simple with no decorations, almost to match the formal neatness typical of the Doric order, while the pediment boasts the decoration of two winged Victories who hold the coat of arms of the Emo family, which is also visible inside the villa and is characterized by four slanted stripes alternatively coloured red and silver. The same colouring, though in a fainter manner, is present in the sculpture by Vittoria and all together it represents the only exterior and interior element of sculptural decoration in the architectural plan designed by Andrea Palladio for Villa Emo. In the Four Books Palladio explains the reasons for the transposition of this sacralizing element in a private residence stating that:

such frontispieces mark the entrance of the house and are necessary

for the grandeur and magnificence of the building

which thus has a front part more outstanding than the other parts.

Besides they are very useful to bear the coats of arms

which are usually placed in the middle of the façades.

The entire façade rests upon a high base which is connected to the central court via an access ramp, which reveals the agricultural tradition of the complex. The ramp, an innovation in the Palladian villas, was necessary to lay the products out so that they could dry in the sun and facilitate the transport to the granaries in wheelbarrows loaded with food products and other goods.

The ramp, the courtyard in front of it, which is its perfect continuation and the basis of the columns are the only stone architectural elements. The main building material for Villa Emo is in fact brick covered by a layer of plaster. The shafts of the four Doric columns in the pronaos are themselves made of brick. The choice of building materials alone demonstrates the full genius of the architect: the poor and cheap construction materials are used to their full potential; in other words they are understood and valued in order to obtain the utmost expression of elegance. Mortar, bricks and wood are the key elements in this building whereas the decoration in the interior has the task of imitating precious materials.

The symmetry of the entire façade is, furthermore, enhanced by the use of simple geometrical shapes: two parallelepipeds, that is the two barchesse, which frame the central block, shaped as a cube.

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