Villa Pisani is the name shared by a number of villas commissioned by the patrician Pisani family of Venice. However, Villa Pisani usually refers to a large, late baroque villa at Stra.
The construction was begun in the early 18th century for Alvise Pisani, the most prominent member of the Pisani family, who was appointed doge in 1735. The initial models of the palace by Paduan architect Girolamo Frigimelica still exist, but the design of the main building was ultimately completed by Francesco Maria Preti. The villa has on its walls the works of Giambattista Tiepolo and other famous painters.
When it was built the building had 114 rooms, in honour of its owner, the 114th Doge of Venice Alvise Pisani. The most important room is the 'Napoleon Room' and its near bathroom, furnished with pieces from the Napoleonic and Habsburg periods and others from the Pisani period.
In 1807 it was bought by Napoleon from the Pisani Family, now in poverty due to great losses in gambling. In 1814 the building became the property of the House of Habsburg who transformed the villa into a place of vacation for the European aristocracy of that period. In 1934 it was partially restructured to host the first meeting of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, after the riots in Austria.
From the outside, the facade of the oversized palace appears to command the site, facing the Brenta River some 30 kilometers from Venice. The villa is part of a series of villas, which the Venetian noble families and merchants started to build in the 15th century. However, unlike the earlier buildings, which were designed as to be a pleasure house and an agricultural enterprise, Villa Pisani was primarily built as a demonstration of the power achieved by the family, since one of them, Alvise Pisani, was elected doge in 1735.
The broad façade is topped with statuary, and presents an exuberantly decorated center entrance with monumental columns shouldered by caryatids. It shelters a large complex with two inner courts and acres of gardens, stables, and a maze. Giovanni Tiepolo decorated the massive frescoed ceiling depicting the Glory of the Pisani family (painted 1760–1762). Additional frescoes and paintings are by his son Gian Domenico Tiepolo, Crostato, Jacopo Guarana, Jacopo Amigoni, P.A. Novelli, and Gaspare Diziani. The bombastic allusions of the ceiling echo in the now uninhabited shell of a palace. The remainder of its nearly 100 rooms are now empty; on the first floor there are several rooms with furniture of the 18th and 19th century.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.