Villa Contarini is a patrician villa Veneta in "Piazzola sul Brenta", province of Padua, Northern Italy. The villa is in Baroque style and is backed by a 40 ha park with lakes and alleys. The central building was begun in 1546 under commission by the Venetian patrician brothers Paolo and Francesco Contarini.
Controversial is the attribution of the design to Andrea Palladio. This first edifice was later enlarged in the late 17th century by Marco Contarini, that expanded the building making it a palace and an extremely picturesque place. After a long period of neglect, the Camerini family bought the estate, and brought it back to its old splendor, decorating it following the eclectic 19th-century style. Subsequently, the Villa went through a new period of neglect until the mid-20th century, when it was purchased by Professor G.E. Ghirardi and was assigned to the Foundation bearing his name.
Traces of Palladian work linger on in maps and archival documents, although little is now visible of a building which was transformed in several campaigns from 1662 on. In 1676 the right wing was enlarged and remodeled, with a two-storey order of rustic columns and telamons, and a program of ostentatious sculptural decoration which invades the principal villa block too. The chapel is one of the most important works designed by Tommaso Temanza.
A map of 1788 shows that by that date the porticoed hemicycle defining the great piazza already existed. It is located in an important geographical spot of the Venetian plain, between Padua and Cittadella; with its 180 meters of length, it is one of the largest and most beautiful Villas in Veneto. It is considered one of the most important artistic sights in the territory owing to its architectural features, as well as to the characteristic landscape surrounding it.
One of the most famous room is the Gallery of the Shells that is located on the ground floor in the western wing. Today the long gallery is closed by large windows, but originally it was open. The delightful decoration, which follows Mannerism, consists of a series of relievers and cornices made of shell and reproducing figures of the underwater world (crabs, sea horses, anchors). The gallery, restored in the 1920s, had been seriously damaged in the mid-18th century after being used as a stable by Austrian troops.
Now, it is regularly used as the venue for concerts and cultural events, as well as being available as the ideal location for conferences, meetings, and public and private receptions.