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The garden in the late 1800s

The third chapter on the evolution of Villa Emo’s garden is dated 1868. A file of few pages for that year is kept in the Emo Capodilista’s archive bearing the significant title: A project for a garden and for soil drying, and inside it was The garden project by Cav. Negrin from Vicenza. The representation of the whole General Plan of the new gardens annexed to the villa in Fanzolo, owned by the very noble Emo Capodilista’s family, is the work of the civil architect Antonio Caregaro Negrin and was designed by his son Giovanni in 1868 in Vicenza. The document is a valuable and detailed water-coloured , technical design where we find two specific terms of Landscape Architecture from the second half of the 1800s: the symmetrical garden, that is the open space closer to the villa and the landscape garden located to the east of the villa.

The symmetrical garden is characterized by an even and level ground, with the villa as the centre of the balances. The gardens at the front and at the back are differently organized , but in both what stands out is the sinuosity of the shapes given by the oval flowerbeds (at the front), round and curved shapes (at the back). The main body of the building is the axis of symmetry that divides the identified areas into two corresponding sectors. The routes suitable for vehicles, both near or overlooking the residence, are wide and serve the purpose of bordering the green; whereas the routes at the back are narrower and leave more space to vegetation. The project confirms the presence of the symmetrical orangeries seen as natural extensions of the barchesse.

The landscape garden is characterized by the particular features of the romantic garden, according to the principles circulated at the beginning of the XIX century, like the presence of water, wide spaces, and tree-lined roads; the aim of the post Industrial Revolution garden is essentially to imitate nature.

The projects around Villa Emo include simple water fountains, canals with bridges and waterfalls, some new architectural structures in the park like the ice-house and the shack, and even the conversion of the Palladian dovecote on the east barchessa into a belvedere (a torre da ridursi a belvedere).

Nearly 150 years on from the Negrin’s project we still wonder whether the romantic garden project was ever realized. Despite the archive material, including not only the above mentioned project but also other documents regarding the work to be carried out, particularly in the area to the east of the villa, the inventory of the tree species and also numerous pages of accounting records for work carried out between 1873 and 1875, there is no photographic proof or document stating with certainty that the ambitious 19th century project had ever been wholly or partially completed.

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