The Brenta Canal and the Venetian villas
Navigation from Fusina to Stra

The Brenta Canal, once used as a communication route between Padua and Venice, is still navigable today and appears among the proposed itineraries with the Houseboat. You will have to test yourself with the passage of locks and swing bridges, but the landscape and the numerous Venetian Villas will reward your efforts.
The Venetian Villas were built as mainland residences of the patricians who lived in the Republic of the Serenissima. The Villas, sumptuous residences, work of famous architects and frescoed by excellent painters, developed between the 15th and 16th centuries the phenomenon of “holidaying”. In the Veneto region there are about 2,000 villas dating back to that historical period, just think that about seventy or so were built right on the banks of the Brenta Canal.

While sailing you can admire a series of imposing facades reflected in the waters of the canal. Choose at least a couple of them, the most important ones, for a visit…the rooms and the parks will make you fly back in time!

Villa Foscari “La Malcontenta”, designed by architect Palladio for the Foscari brothers, one of the most powerful families in the Venetian Republic. It is the only Venetian villa to have almost regal characteristics, unlike all the other Palladian villas. The nickname of Malcontenta seems to derive from a lady of the Foscari house, confined within its walls in solitude to serve a sentence for her licentious conduct, without ever being seen coming out or looking out of the windows.

Villa Pisani, also known as La Nazionale, is the best known among the Venetian Villas. It was built in 1721 on a project by Gerolamo Frigimelica and Francesco Maria Preti for the noble Venetian family Pisani. Among the various frescoes and paintings you can find the fresco by Giambattista Tiepolo “The Apotheosis of the Family”. The Villa had 114 rooms, in honour of the 114th Doge of the Republic of Venice Alvise Pisani. There are now 168 rooms and they are named after the guest who stayed there. One room in fact takes the name of Napoleon, who was also the owner of the villa for a period of time.


  • The Burchiello was, in ancient times, a river boat for passenger transport on the Brenta Canal. It was mainly used by Venetian nobles to go to their mainland properties. These boats travelled by rowing from St. Mark’s to Fusina, from here on they were pulled by horses to Padua. Among the famous people aboard the Burchiello we remember Henry III, King of France, Montesquieu, Goldoni and Goethe. With the arrival of Napoleon towards the end of 1700 the Burchiello and the phenomenon of the “holidaying” fell into decline.
  • Villa Pisani is also famous for its labyrinth with turret in the centre. Also called the “Labyrinth of Love” it is formed by 9 concentric circles of hedges. It is said that in the labyrinth the game between lady and knight took place: the lady stood on the central tower with her masked face and the knight had to reach her, once arrived, she revealed her true identity: but it was always a surprise.

Buy the “Naviglio del Brenta” waterway map to have a guide with information on moorings and locks, but also with useful information on what to visit.

Click here to buy

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