La Malcontenta

Pubblicato: settembre 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

La Rotonda (Vicenza)

This place so fascinating owes its name to three legends. The first it’s about a lady of the Foscari family, confined within its walls alone to be punished for her bad behaviour. The second relates the place so called since 1431 because of the discontent of the inhabitants of Padua and Piove di Sacco for the construction of the Brenta Canal; the last shows the name before the ownership of the Foscari as the area was frequently overflowed by the Brenta Canal (Malcontenta = “Brenta poorly contained”). The Villa, meant for meditation and not for agricultural works as the Rotonda in Vicenza, is a suburban building lying on the border of the Venetian lagoon. The Malcontenta’s works begun in 1566 and were completed by the Capra brothers, who bought the building in 1591.

The fresco by Tiepolo already at Villa Contarini dei Leoni and now kept at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris reminds us the visit of Henry III, King of France in transit through the territories of Venice (1574).

Tiepolo, il ricevimento di Erico III, 1750 ca

During the nineteenth century, as many treasures of Veneto, the Villa disintegrates: everything collapses and become a military storage and than abandoned.

I remember admiring this incredible project that I consider as a living sculpture in Palladio’s Four Books of Architecture (1570).

Immediately after the war Mazzotti commissioned me to write a booklet, now rare, about the state of the villas at the foot of the hills from Vidor to Bassano. They were abandoned, collapsed or used as stables, cellars and storage of cheese and salami hanging from the beams of the ceilings.

Luckily Villa Barbaro with its round temple was restored by Marina Volpi Cicogna who also opened it to the public. I used to get there by bike to play with her daughter Esmeralda as Giuseppe Volpi had witnessed the wedding of my parents.

Villa Barbaro, Maser

I saw the real Malcontenta for the first time with Betty and John Mc Andrew that I was helping to write the book Venetian Architecture of the Early Renaissance, when we went to visit the Landsberg. I do not remember exactly when and who drove the car to get there. The car seemed colossal: lapped at the edges of the road, the wheels were running in two streams spreading the perfume of wet grass. At our arrival, the hosts received us in a tumultuous bubble of incorporeal mosquitos. Even if I appeared for the first time they treated me as an old friend. I was open-mouthed to see them with the background of the building surrounded by jasmine illuminated by the flickering lights of the candles beyond the open windows. While we were climbing the external stairs we were admiring the weeping willows and the white calle flowers multiplied by the water. Once in, the benches covered by wild silk as my suit, made me feel at home. This image will be my Malcontenta forever!

The Landsberg told me that when they bought it the Villa looked as the Sleeping Beauty, laying imprisoned by ruins dressed with thorns.

Years later I went back with Howard Burns who was staying in my studio in Santa Maria del Giglio. We reached the Malcontenta from the Romea road, crossing corn’s fields with a peasant house. The lesson of Burns made me realize how much this architectural jewel was probably one of the most beautiful works of Palladio.

August 26th, on the terrace of the Guggenheim, Pierre Rosenberg made an enthusiastic introduction of the book by Tonci Foscari “Tumult and Order. Malcontenta 1924 – 1939”, dedicated to the people who lived there.

Antonio “Tonci ‘Foscari, since 1971 teaches history and architecture at IUAV in Venice, he has already published by the Swiss publisher Lars Müller a book about the Palladian drawings never built (Andrea Palladio. Unbuilt Venice). In 1973, he restored the Villa Malcontenta, built for his ancestors and during those years he started his researches on the architect.

More about the book and the Lars Müller Publisher here



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