Villa Pisani was designed by Andrea Palladio about 1552, for Cardinal Francesco Pisani. Pisani was also a patron of the painters Paolo Veronese and Giambattista Maganza and the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria, who provided sculptures of the Four Seasons for the villa, which is in fact provided with fireplaces to dispel winter chill.
Construction of the villa was under way by 1553, and it was completed in 1555. The central block is an uncompromising rectangle, with a pedimented tetrastyle portico, Ionic over Doric, that has been sunk into its wall-plane so that the columns are embedded half-columns. On the garden front, the similar structure instead forms a screen across the fronts of a recessed portico surmounted by a loggia, which become in single recessed central feature. The Doric frieze runs uninterrupted round the building, further binding all elements together. There are no surviving autograph drawings related to this project. However, Palladio published a version of the building in his I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura. The woodcut shows an idealized, amplified form of the villa, in which the central block is flanked by arched gateway structures that end in tall, three-storey tower-like pavilions.
In 1996 UNESCO included the Villa Pisani in the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'. The villa continues to be in private ownership.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.