You do not expect to wake up the morning, look outside of your bathroom window and find across the road an Italian villa, a Palladian villa.
I knew it was big, but it was not until later in the day when I walked into Bassano del Grappa after a three-hour walk along the river in the morning, I appreciated how big, or how splendid. My view earlier from my bathroom window was end on.
What I was looking at was a 16th Italian villa designed by the Venetian architect Andrea della Gondola detto il Palladio.
Andrea della Gondola detto il Palladio was a Renaissance man. He reintroduced the Roman villa. And that is what I found I was looking at, a Roman villa, collonaded structures, a pond, massive gates, sculptures. Off to one side, forming a wing, a long block, probably once servant quarters, was now lived in.
This block formed one side of a farmyard, which we learnt talking to a local man on our last day, housed a winery.
What must have once been the extensive grounds for the house, now vineyards.
The villa is now boarded up, though Roberto, owner of Hotel Alla Corte, told me it was used a couple of times a year for grand cultural events (and showed me an album of pictures of one such event) and said during a visit to Italy, Queen Elizabeth II of England stayed at the villa.
Andrea della Gondola detto il Palladio (1508-1580) got the name Palladio from Pallas Athene, patron of Athena. He was influenced by Vitruvius Pollio, a first century Roman architect whose books, The Ten Books of Architecture, had recently been rediscovered.
Andrea della Gondola detto il Palladio wrote Quattro Libri dell’Architettura, four books on the principles of architecture.
Andrea della Gondola detto il Palladio influenced Thomas Jefferson, who in turn had an influence on the design and layout of Washington DC, in particular the Capitol building.
In modern literature, Andrea della Gondola detto il Palladio makes an appearance in The Fire, the sequel to The Eight.
Synchronicity: I was in Bassano del Grappa for the launch of The Alchemist pen by Montegrappa and for a St Josepeph’s Day party. Alchemy is key to The Fire. I was given as a present The Fire at the St Joseph’s Day party.