Villa Piovene was commissioned in the 16th century for the aristocratic Venetian Piovene family, their architect believed to have been Andrea Palladio. It is part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto' since 1996.
Villa Piovene was built around 1539–40 in competition to and within the immediate vicinity of Villa Godi, which rises only a few hundred metres. Rivalries have been proven to exist between the Piovene and Godi noble families. The villa was the ambitions of Battista Piovene and his son Tommaso Piovene, the latter was probably responsible for commissioning the structure. The Piovene family seemed less interested in matching the size of Villa Godi as they were in the choice of the artisan workshop carrying out the work, that of Giovanni di Giacomo da Porlezza, who also was responsible for the execution of Villa Godi, of the Pedemuro workshop, where Andrea Palladio was employed.
More doubts than certainties surround Palladio's involvement in the execution of the Villa. First of all, the building was not included in the Quattro libri dell'architettura (published 1570), although other certainly autograph villas were also excluded (such as the Villa Gazzotti or the Villa Valmarana at Vigardolo). But it is the characteristics of the building itself which are most perplexing: the plan is hardly sophisticated, the windows pierce the façade without any particular order, and the pronaos is awkwardly joined to the building block.
The villa is certainly the product of three campaigns of work: documents demonstrate the existence of a manorial house, smaller than the present one and certainly constructed before 1541, which was enlarged at a later stage by the addition of the pronaos bearing the inscribed date 1587: so the loggia that projects in the center — six Ionic columns supporting a triangular gable — may have begun by Palladio around 1570 and completed after his death. The extension of the mansion and the vertical window rhythms can also be assumed to have taken place within the 1570s in accordance with Palladio's wishes, though not carried out by him.
Finally, in the first half of the eighteenth century, the architect Francesco Muttoni constructed the actual lateral barchesse (side farm wings), laid out the garden and probably executed the double-ramp stairs which lead to the loggia. The scenographic stair by which one accedes to the villa, however, was certainly realised some years prior together with the handsome gate of 1703.
Today, the villa is seen against a picturesque backdrop of a garden, which was laid out in the 19th century, situated in the plain of the Astico River. In 1996, UNESCO included the building within the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.