The Villa Pisani is a very special place. Truly enormous, almost palatial in scale and full of fine antiques and frescoes, the real glory of the estate is its elaborate formal garden and adjacent English-style park. We were fortunate to visit in mid-May, when the roses and peonies were at their peak.
I have visited the Veneto many times, and on this occaision was with a small group of friends from San Francisco, including an architect, two interior designers and a caterer, so we are all aesthetically-minded persons. I knew of the Villa by reputation, and decided to book a weekend's stay before moving on to Palladio's nearby Villa Saraceno (which can be rented for holidays from the Landmark Trust). At Villa Pisani we had three rooms, all of them different and impressive in their own way, some of them with staggering frescoed walls, and each enjoying glorious views of the gardens. The room I shared with a friend was the largest, probably measuring 25 by 25 feet square with very high ceilings, two windows overlooking the gardens and another French door opening to a narrow terrace. It was airy and full of light, and had two wide single beds with good mattresses and linens, a pair of 18th-century giltwood chairs flanking the fireplace, and many other fine antiques as well as framed sets of prints and paintings on the walls. Our bathroom was large but dated, with only a tub but two sinks, and the other baths I saw were smaller with tiny showers -- but no matter, two of them had fabulous fresco fragments. It is true the hot water takes a long time to arrive, but that is the reality in such an old house, and this is not a hotel.
In the mornings, an ample breakfast is served either on the terrace pergola or in the dining room, and consists of good cheeses, yogurts, fruit, excellent coffee and admittedly mediocre breads (why is it that despite the fabulous food in Italy, bread is usually terrible?). We especially liked the dining room with its many paintings, objets d'art and antique sideboards groaning with silver.
There is an adjacent and very large sitting room decorated with framed panels of papier peint, comfortable sofas, many antiques and an enviable collection of books on art and architecture, as well as an extensive collection of Murano glass displayed on the consoles and coffee tables. I think this was our favorite space in the house, full of personal photos and memories, and we enjoyed lingering there. There is also an impressive suite of very grand and frescoed state rooms on the piano nobile above to explore.
Our hostess, Signora la Dottoressa Bolognesi Scalabrin (Mariella) could not have been more welcoming. I especially appreciated her help when I stupidly lost my passport, and she spent literally hours on the phone trying to track it down for me. In the event I had to drive to Milan for a new one, but without Mariella's help this would have been a nightmare. Signora Scalabrin was also most willing to make suggestions and reservations for local restaurants, and there is also a cafe and bar conveniently located just outside the villa. We left full of admiration for the owner of Villa Pisani, who has undertaken the considerable work of caring for this gigantic house and its treasures. I would say my only disappointment was my own failure to not use the large and inviting swimming pool!
To sum up: If you want a 5-star hotel experience with lavish bathrooms and amenities like wi-fi, in-room telephones and televisions, do go elsewhere. But if you appreciate faded grandeur, want to dive into the true villa culture of the Veneto and experience a vanishing aristocratic way of life, then the Villa Pisani is for you.
- Also Known As:
- Pisani Hotel Vescovana