Bolzonella: history, garden and the Oratory

The Bolzonella, located in the heart of Veneto and a few steps from the historic center of the medieval city of Cittadella, has had a strong vocation since its origins as a place dedicated to production, cultivation and water management, and the preservation of the fruits of the land, rather than a place for leisure, continuing the great tradition of the Venetian villas that, before being a place of relaxation, were a place of business.

It initially belonged to the Carturo family: Benvenuto da Carturo was commissioned by the Republic of Padua to build the walls of Cittadella (1220). He then took the name of Cittadella and his descendants with him.

The Villa, the garden, the Oratory, and the annexes of Bolzonella, declared a National Monument after the First World War and bound on August 6, 1964, date back to the end of the 16th century and are later than the adjacent medieval tower dating back to the 1200s. Until 1612, the entire settlement, which faced the Common Road to Cittadella, consisted of the easternmost body with the garden to the north, the Oratory, and the rural buildings with the mill. Maps demonstrate how the evolution of this place is linked to the history of the territory and water management, the reclamation of “swampy assets,” and the cultivation of rice, exploiting the resurgences that are characteristic of this area. Since 1687, the Villa, expanded in 1656 (as noted in the inscription on the central tympanum of the south-facing facade), and the garden were modified with a rose parterre divided into four quadrants and the arched avenue of climbers to the north, a tree-lined avenue of oaks that led to the countryside to the east. In the 1700s, the garden was described with a U-shaped fishpond that took water from the irrigation canal, regulated by the mill, with the rose parterre, with the hornbeam alleys that delimited the stretches of lawn, the sweet grove, and the birdland to the east of the fishpond.

The current layout of the Bolzonella garden, attributable to Jappelli (after 1824-1830), was wanted by Count Andrea Cittadella Vigodarzere (1804-1870), Senator of the Kingdom in 1867, “… who, having a special, understandable affection for the villa, wanted to create a charming garden with a forest and a lake of conifers, which also rise in the meadow in front of the palace” and represents the last expansion. In the Austrian Cadastre (1846), Bolzonella was intended “partly for holidays, partly for rural business,” a still valid identity. Today, the garden consists of large lawns framed by hedges of ancient roses, crossed by straight paths that intersect perpendicularly, adorned with lemons in pots (formal garden) and around the two long avenues of hornbeams, linden trees, maples, and beeches that follow the waterline of the fishpond, which separates the grove of dated and valuable tree specimens (particularly near the original Zelkova carpinifolia, Quercus palustris, Quercus robur, Atlantic cedars and Taxodium distichum pond) with slight movements of land and paths that lead to small lawns and clearings, in an evident landscape style.

The Oratory of Villa Bolzonella is dedicated to the Holy Trinity as stated on a copy of a plaque transcribed by Jacopo Salomonio. It was inaugurated in 1664 after the reconstruction carried out by Count Bartolomeo Cittadella. In 1672, a perpetual chaplaincy was established, confirming the seven weekly masses under the patronage of the Cittadella family. In 1864, the Bishop of Vicenza confirmed the privileges granted and the commitments undertaken exactly two centuries before. The oratory was completely reformed around 1830 for use as a funeral chapel, with a style that is believed to be clearly attributable to Jappelli, always from Count Andrea Cittadella Vigodarzere, where he himself was laid to rest in 1870, demonstrating the great emotional value he had for this place. The Oratory has a main entrance on the public road and another entrance from the private garden. Above the doorway, from which those who enter are warned and informed, there is a high relief butterfly, which iconographically represents the soul as the classical tradition wants. In addition, here we find the citation from Canto X of Dante’s Purgatory “we are worms to form the angelic butterfly,” while a little higher up there is an epigraph with some verses from Ugo Foscolo’s Sepolcri “on the dead / do not forge flowers / unless they are made of human / praises honored and of loving tears.” Both quotes explicitly refer to the funerary function of the chapel and clearly refer to the figure of Andrea Cittadella Vigodarzere and the circle of intellectuals and humanists of which he was a part, such as Foscolo himself.

In 1975, Countess Andreina Cittadella Vigodarzere, without children, adopted her niece, Countess Alessandra Giusti del Giardino, leaving her all her property in Bolzonella in her inheritance.
Since 2020, La Bolzonella has been owned by the son of the latter, Pietro Imperiali di Francavilla.

[ Martina Massaro, Il Palazzo Treves de Bonfili e il suo giardino, collana Padova Otto-Novecento, a cura di M. Isneghi, Padova, Il Poligrafo, 2019; Martina Massaro, Giacomo Treves de Bonfili, collezionista e mecenate. La raccolta di un filantropo-patriota, tesi di dottorato Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia, relatore Donatella Calabi, a.a 2013-2014]