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The 18th century layout

In 1731 Giovanni Emo commissioned the measuring, listing and description of all the land he owned near Piombino, Fanzolo and neighbouring sites to the agricultural engineer Angelo Gattolini from Treviso. At present there is still a very big map of the massive work carried out, kept in the Emo-Capodilista’s archive at the villa which refers to the property owned by the Emo family at Fanzolo and the registration of the same. While the first one is a bird’s eye view of the family’s land with key (though this is practically illegible due to the poor state of preservation of the map); the second one is composed of full-page drawings, in excellent state of preservation, of the different plots of land including descriptions, measurements and detailed key.

In the map called Possessione Prima detta di Brolo, we can read in detail what the villa and its garden looked like in the year 1731. In the east barchessa (that corresponds to the current access to the villa, were the stables and the coach house; whereas in the west barchessa there were the farmer’s dwelling, the caneva, (the cellar) and the granaries. The west barchessa continued with a greenhouse, called cedrara. In front of the villa there was a vast farmyard; on its left there was a giardino in quantità (large garden), with eight geometrical flowerbeds, probably planted with flowers and aromatic plants, which called to mind the geometrical Renaissance gardens, known as Italian style gardens, like the Barco of Caterina Cornaro in the nearby Altivole or the ancient garden of Villa Corner also called of Paradise, at Castelfranco Veneto; the latter was destroyed at the beginning of 1800 and replaced by The Revedin Bolasco park.

In this part of the garden we also find the broletto, that is the orchard. On the right, separated by a wall, there is the vegetable garden, called ortaglie in quantità, with an outstanding oven and the place where the guard dog sits.The land behind the villa was all fallow field, whereas in front of the villa, where the current entrance is, there was a fish farm. Here are also shown the two places where the water enters the fish farm and then leaves it to irrigate the estate. Interestingly the fish farm is just as long as the façade of the building, almost to emphasize and take up its dimension. The absence of an aligned bridge (according to the land registry) seems to suggest that the entrance to the villa was through a door with a gate located to the left of the fish farm.

The 18th century garden of Villa Emo is still closely connected to the function of the residence, an agricultural farm where all the components have a double valence: functional and decorative. The transformation from villa-farm of Palladian inspiration to villa-aristocratic residence to spend holidays in and invite friends to, was probably realized around 1744 and is to be ascribed to Francesco Muttoni. The date was not chosen at random, in fact it appears in a mosaic inscription located in the villa’s mezzanine, an area that is not open to the public, and the date represents the year in which work was carried out to make the villa more consistent with the fashion and demands of Venetian society and its ‘craziness for holidays’, as in Goldoni’s play Smanie per la Villeggiatura. In the same years, the new farm was built to the west of the villa (the current main office of Credito Trevigiano) in the area where supposedly once was the palace of the Barbarigos, the first owners of the lands that were later purchased by the Emo family.

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