The Foresteria

The Foresteria is part of the monumental complex of Villa Valmarana ai nani which also includes the Palazzina, the Stables and the large Historic Park; originally it was built to host the “foresti”, i.e. the owners’ guests. The family still lives there. The Foresteria is its true home with objects, furniture, photos that have belonged since its beginning to the Counts Valmarana. Added to it is the extraordinary uniqueness of the freoscoes by Giandomenico Tiepolo and by his famous father Giambattista painted in every room.

"Goethe during his voyage to Italy in 1787 defined “Sublime” the style of the Palazzina and “Natural” the style tied to the agreste life we see in the Foresteria and here, just in the very moment in which the young Giandomenico paints his masterpiece, Goethe seems to give him the highest prize, saying that Tiepolo is better in the “natural” rather than in the "sublime", that he is best when he paints the scenes of country life, which are in fact those of Giandomenico. (The son) has in such a way managed to exceed the sublime rethoric of the father with outcomes of pure poetry. And what we see in the Palazzina, the stories and the myth  painted in highest representation but always fake, in the theatrical fiction becomes truth of existence, even if in an idyllic dimension, in the country scenes painted by Giandomenico in the Foresteria.

 (Vittorio Sgarbi “Dall’ombra alla luce -  Da Caravaggio a Tiepolo". La nave di Teseo, 2016)


The  Foresteria was originally a “barchessa”, i.e. a rural bulding serving the Villa. In 1669, when Giustino Valmarana bought the complex, it was transformed into the Guest-house for the family friends. At the time, the entrance's 7 arches opened on an ample porch, on which faced the rooms. The arches were then closed and substituted by rectangular windows that give life to a large internal hall.The architect was Francesco Muttoni (1669-1747), an important scholar of Palladio. These buildings allowed him to propose a new language that reinterpreted – according to the taste of the time and after the baroque experience,  Palladian solutions.


From the Foresteria's windows one can enjoy the extraordinary view on the Valletta del Silenzio, still intact 

from the time when the writer Antonio Fogazzaro - married to Rita Valmarana - called it so in his novel Piccolo mondo moderno.


The Portico

The Portico with its eight columns of imposing proortions to allow the entrance of the carriages is of typical Palladian imprint.The walls are embelished with Roman finds and with friezes from the Tumb of the Dogi Barbarigo, among which the coat of arm with the Dogale Horn attributed to Tullio Lombardo (1488): they were in the church of Santa Maria della Carità in Venice, demolished by Napoleon to enlarge the Accademia Museum. 

The Portico was chosen in 1904 by the American painter Maxwell Parish (1870 – 1966) to illustrate Villa Valmarana in the book by Edith Wharton “Italian Villas and Their Gardens” (Picture above).


The Foresteria, pictural triumph of Giandomenico Tiepolo, is the only place in he world where, through its seven rooms entirelly frescoed, it is possible to compare the work of the father Giambattista to that of the son Giandomenico;  after the Chinoiseires, the Pesants and the Promenades of the son, the eye is enchanted and yet confused in entering the room of the Gods of the Olympus, very different from the other rooms. It is painted by Giambattista, as so is the black servant (Alì) who descends the trompe-l’oeil stairs in the adjoining room dedicated to the Venice Carnival.


The Chinese Room

The frescoes depict an extravagant evocation of Chine, very much in fashion in Venice throughout the 18th century. The adoration of a Moon deity, the buying of spices and of preciuos silks are pretexts for showing goods which, since the time of Marco Polo, were arriving into Venice. Giandomenico Tiepolo, who had never visited the Celestial Empire, has imagined four windows that open on an extraordinary country, where strange animals and birds, rich with imaginary spices and roots. The Maritime Pine that comes out from the wall's frame seems to enter in the room thus creating a tridimensional effect.


The Peasants Room

In this room Giandomenico represents the world of the Venetian peasants in a hot summer day. On a wall a family eats in front of a fence from which pumkins and leaves hang. On the wall opposite, another group rests under the trees with a row of mulberry trees in the background. Next to it two women and a child go to the market in their Sunday clothes; from a basket emerges a chicken head, while an old woman rests below a tree shadow reciting her rosary. According to a number of art historians, Francisco Goya, would have been influenced by Giandomenico staying in Madrid with his father to paint the ceiling of the Royal Palace. Above the doors satyrs and fauns make fun of those who pass.


The Neo-Gothic Room

The frescoes in this room show the promenades of aristocretic couples in Winter and in Summer in a Neo-Gothic setting: for the first time this style decorates a room which was usually employed for gardens pavillions.

On one side an elegant couple walks protected against the heat by a parasol; opposite, three rich ladies fight the winter cold with turbans, furs and sleeves.

At the center, two lovers dressed in Kossovo clothes, exchange a letter under an Autumn sky.


The Room of the Gods of the Olympus

The room of the Gods of the Olympus is the only one frescoed by Giambattista who, with his mythological subjects, takes us back to the "Sublime" style. At the center, Juppiter is seated on the clouds, as if on a throne, next to him an eagle shows the symbol of his power:  thunderbolts and scepter. On the other walls there are other gods, each with his symbol: Mars and Venus with the apple; Apollo and Diana with the half moon over her head; Saturnus with the scythe and the hourglass; Mercury with the winged hat. 


The Carnival Room

This room is considered the masterpiece of the quadraturist Mengozzi Colonna with the two large staircases in trompe-l'oeil; from one hangs a monkey while from the other Alì - Tiepolo's black servant probably painted by Giandomenico -  descends with a tray. All around are scenes of the Venetian Carnival, dominated by the Mondo Novo fresco: masked characters, painted from behind, follow the images produced by a magic Lantern. Many years later Giambattista -  back from Madrid - would reproduce this subject in a fresco in his villa in Zianigo, inherited from Giambattista after is death in 1770. The Villa was bought by the Comune di Venezia in 1907. All the frescoes have been "strappati" (ripped off with a special technique) and can be seen in the Venetian Museo of Cà Rezzonico, seat of the civic collections dedicated to the '700 of the Correr Museum.


The Room of the Architectures

 "Architectures" are the subjects of this room attributed to Antonio Visentini (1688 - 1782), who worked with the greatest Venetian painters of the 18th century, specialised in architectural fantasies and "capricci". Huge Palladian buildings are represented here. But the small characters in the foreground and in particular a gentleman and a dog that with great ease "spend a penny" are certainly the work of Giandomenico.


The Room of the Putti

The room of the "Putti" takes its name from the children playing inside ovals framed by a series of golden arabesques that climb on the walls. The magnificent perrot with blue and red feathers by Giandomenico is what stands out the most; he re-painted it in his villa in Zianigo and is now showed in Cà Rezzonico.


The most famous portrait of Andrea Palladio who had built villas and palaces for the Valmarana family hangs on the wall of the main room, probably painted by Giovanbattista Maganza (1513 - 1586). 

The attribution is not certain but the protrait - which has always remained in the family - is fundamental to tell us what the most famous architect of the last five centuries looked like.

In October 2014 the portrait was stolen, but thanks to the scrupolous work of the Italian State Police, since January 2015 it is back to its place at the entrance of the Foresteria.