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Castello di Roncade – Treviso

History of the house

The splendours of Renaissance Venice in a hospitable fortified villa surrounded by vines

Imagine the Venetian countryside, with its noble vineyards and its small towns steeped in history. And then picture one of the most beautiful villas of the cinquecento encircled by fortified walls and bastions, with a park graced by majestic cedars hundreds of years old, and its cellars where award-winning grand cru wines mature in their huge wooden casks. Its owner, Baron Ciani Bassetti, a passionate oenologist, is waiting to welcome you into his palace, the Castello di Roncade – a genuine Renaissance work of art – where you will have the privilege of enjoying his and his family’s exceptional hospitality.

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The Roncade domaine has been renowned for its vineyards since the Middle Ages © Castello di Roncade

The dawn of Mannerism

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An old plan of the château, the enceinte and the vineyard (provenance unknown)

The Castello di Roncade is more a stately villa than castle, for the Venetian authorities of the time forbade the construction of fortress castles on private property. Albeit imposing, the fortified walls surrounding the house are more symbolic than defensive. Completed in 1508, this small palace is particularly interesting as its style and proportions herald the trend towards Mannerism. Its architectural plans have been attributed either to the famous sculptor Tullio Lombardo, or to the architect Mauro Coducci who designed many of the palaces and churches in Venice including the famous clock tower in the Piazza San Marco. The building was a source of inspiration to one of Coducci’s pupils Andrea Palladio, who was to become a leading figure in Italian architecture.

A palatial country house

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The original clay bust of Girolamo Giustiniani

Donna Agnesina Badoer, who came from one of the most influential aristocratic families in Venice, ordered the house to be built at the start of the 16th century (cinquecento), but it was her second husband, Girolamo Giustinian who was to give his name to the estate.
Many important members of the Giustinian family – whose genealogy stretches back to the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century – made their mark in the history of the Most Serene Republic of Venice (La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia), among them were two doges and a bishop – an appointed patriarch of Venice – who was canonised in the 17th century. The Castello di Roncade was one of their country estates, and famous for its prized vineyard.

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Girolamo Giustinian’s coat of arms, on the chimney breast of the living room

intoHistory TipYou can still see Agnesina Badoer’s coat of arms – a red lion rampant against diagonal bands of red and white – or that of Girolamo Giustinian – a double-headed eagle – in many different parts of the property.

A fascinating burgeoning of creativity

The villa was built on the foundations of a 10th century fortress constructed by the Emperor Otto II in the first years of the German Holy Roman Empire. The quattrocento (15th century) enceinte of brick, with its great square bastions, its moat, and turreted entrance, is typical of the late Italian Middle Ages.

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The gate towers on the other side of the moat and bridge are typical of 15th-century military architecture

The villa itself has all the features and more of late Renaissance architecture. It is a restrained rectangular edifice embellished by a portico and two superimposed loggias surmounted by a pediment. Its spacious rooms symmetrically arranged around a central atrium (now glass-fronted), have immensely high ceilings, and a veritable forest of close-set beams. Many of the drawing rooms and bedrooms are decorated with friezes painted affresco with Renaissance motifs.

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The extremely slender columns and arches of the two superimposed loggias are forerunners of the mannerist style of the 16th century

intoHistory TipThe large 24-hour clock, set into the entablature below the pediment, has just one hand.

The treasures in the chapel

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Madonna with child, attributed to Pietro Lombardi

A beautifully proportioned chapel was built in 1517. The sculpted bas-reliefs that adorn the nave are copies of two masterpieces attributed to the sculptor Pietro Lombardo (Tulllio Lombardo’s father.) At the end of the 19th century, the originals were sold and are now in museums in Venice and London. Of further interest are two original clay busts, also of fine workmanship, of Agnesina Badoer and Girolamo Giustinian that are attributed to Jacopo Sansovino. Copies were made in bronze (both contemporaneously and more recently) and can be seen in Paris, Saint Petersburg, and Washington.

A well-kept park

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The unyielding gaze of Croatian mercenaries

Between the enceinte and the arcaded galleries that house the wine cellars, a beautiful Italian garden is laid out with lavender and box cut into geometric shapes, but most eye-catching of all are the magnificent Lebanese cedars (listed as historic monuments) and two huge magnolias. An army of statues – war gods, Croatian mercenaries, and eagles carved from lstrian stone – line the paths. Beyond the gardens are the vineyards, renowned for their wine since the Middle Ages.

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The majestic Lebanese cedars of the park are listed historic monuments

The wine cellars of Baron Ciani Bassetti

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Baron Vincenzo Ciani Bassetti in his wine cellar © Castello di Roncade

The last of the Giustiniani family died without heirs at the end of the 19th century, and the villa was bought by Baron Ciani Bassetti, whose descendants still live in the château. Armed with technical know-how based on the winemaking methods of Bordeaux, the family revived the production of wine. Today, the domaine produces the highest quality wine; of particular note, is the very special grand cru ‘Villa Giustinian’ – a careful blend of Pinot noir, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon and Malbec. Its white wines too are highly reputed especially the Pinot Grigio, the Chardonnay and the Prosecco.

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The wine tuns (large wine casks) in which the domaine’s crus are maturing can be found in the cellars tucked away at the left of this portico © Castello di Roncade

Surviving two world wars

In 1917 and 1918, the château found itself close to the front lines along the River Piave. It was requisitioned by the Italian chief of staff, who frequently used it as a command centre. Part of the domaine was set up as a hospital and many well-known people from aristocrats to writers, passed through its doors. In one of his earliest novels, Ernest Hemingway, stationed at Roncade with his regiment, vividly describes the endless movement of the convoys as they passed through the town on their way to and from the front.

It is difficult to accurately date this photograph showing the Kingdom of Italy’s flag still flying © Archivio storico Lorenzon Roncade

It is difficult to accurately date this photograph showing the Kingdom of Italy’s flag still flying © Archivio storico Lorenzon Roncade

The domaine was badly damaged in 1945 by the Allies, who bombed Treviso thinking it was occupied by important German troops, but with loving care, the Ciani Bassetti family restored it. The baron once again opened its gates to offer shelter to refugees from the Pô plains when the river flooded in 1954.

intoHistory TipOn the villa’s south façade (restored after the Second World War), the frescoes were almost obliterated, but some of their original decorative elements – fine architectural lines, medallions and portraits – have been saved.

The château is opened to the public

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Hospitality is a word taken seriously by the Ciani Bassetti family! © Castello di Roncade

Some years ago, the Ciani Bassetti family opened up the château to take in paying guests and to host prestigious events. Marble bathrooms were installed in the villa’s bedrooms, which have kept their period furniture. Paintings, silk embroideries, and precious ornaments abound in these exceptional guest rooms. The bastions, converted into family apartments, are rather more subdued, but can accommodate – together – groups of up to thirty people. Self-catering is possible in the apartments that are equipped with kitchenettes. Otherwise, meals may be ordered in advance and enjoyed in the large, friendly basement kitchen of the villa. The castello offers the perfect setting for special occasions, weddings, wine tastings and other artisanal events.

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The great entrance hall (or atrium), now glassed in © Castello di Roncade

intoHistory TipThe Ciani Bassetti family will personally welcome you into their beautiful home. You may even be honoured by an invitation to the private section of the château with its beautiful 17th-century decor of the finest craftsmanship.

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Facilities

  • 8 historical bedrooms (3 of which are in the villa)
  • Family apartments in the bastions (reduced rate)
  • En-suite bathrooms (shower)
  • TV / Wifi
  • Breakfast (table d’hôtes on request)
  • Living room, terrace
  • Historical park and garden (with swimming pool)
  • Wine tasting
  • Spoken languages: Italian, English, German, French, Russian
  • Nearest city: Treviso (12 km)
  • Private parking
  • Treviso Canova Airport: 15 km (shuttle on demand)
  • Quarto d’Altino Railway Station: 5 km
  • A car is recommended to visit the surroundings
  • Non accessible for those with reduced mobility
  • Families and children welcome (in the apartments)
  • Domestic pets are allowed (in the apartments only)
  • Non-smoking historic interior

In the neighbourhood

 

The trompe-l’oeil frescoes at the Villa Emo are the work of artist, Giovanni Battista Zelotti © John W. Schulze

The trompe-l’oeil frescoes at the Villa Emo are the work of artist, Giovanni Battista Zelotti © John W. Schulze

The areas round Venice, Padua, and Treviso have many beautiful residences similar to Castello di Roncade and are known as the ‘Ville Venete’. Many of them are open to the public, such as the two architectural masterpieces by Andrea Palladio, the Villa Barbaro (or Villa di Maser), a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Villa Emo at Fanzolo, or a typically 17th century mansion, Villa Tiepolo Passi.

Riviera Garibaldi in Treviso

Riviera Garibaldi in Treviso

The tourist office in Treviso will advise you on the many cultural discoveries to choose from: museums, religious heritage buildings, tours, archaeological sites, art history and the lives of artists.

Other towns well worth a visit are Castelfranco Veneto, where the artist Giorgione was born, and Asolo with its poignant medieval vestiges.

The old town of Asolo is impressive, on its hill-top © Simon

The old town of Asolo, perched on its hilltop © Simon

Just twenty kilometres away, Roncade is ideally placed to visit Venice (public transport) The ‘Serene Republic’ awaits you!

The peace and calm of Roncade is a welcome relief after a day in Venice, which is usually overrun by hordes of tourists ... © Collin Key

The peace and calm of Roncade is a welcome relief after a day in Venice, which is usually overrun by hordes of tourists … © Collin Key

To read, watch or listen to

To fully appreciate the period atmosphere of Castello di Roncade, do not hesitate to enhance your stay by reading a few books (nothing beats a good historical novel to bring old stones back to life). Watching a film evoking the era or listening to some period music may also be a good way to transport you back in time… A few suggestions:

Books to savor during your stay

  • The Venetian Bargain’, Marina Fiorato
    In 16th-century Venice, a sinister ship from Constantinople lies in the harbour near Saint Mark’s Square. Aboard, are a plague-infected passenger – who will soon contaminate the entire city – and a strange woman, a medical practitioner, who has fled the fate planned for her by the Sultan. Andrea Palladio, the famous architect who has been commissioned to build a new church to beg for God’s protection, takes the new arrival under his wing . . .
  • The Story of my Life’, Giacomo Casanova
    The dizzyingly extravagant life of a notorious Venetian libertine is recounted in the first person by Casanova himself; and if his talent as a raconteur matched that of his seductive charms, then it is no wonder that he conquered the hearts of so many women before his outlandish adventures landed him first in prison and then in exile. This is a detailed and fascinating portrait of the social mores of 18th-century Italy.
  • A Farewell to Arms’, Ernest Hemingway
    The novel that sealed Hemingway’s reputation as a writer was largely inspired by his experiences as an ambulance driver during the First World War in North Italy. It is a passionate love story set against the background of the tragic daily life of a country at war. His descriptions of the front not far from Roncade, and the bloody battles fought there against the Austrian army are brutal and heartbreaking. Hemingway’s anti-militarism and his extremely critical observations of the prevailing mood at the heart of the Italian troops at that time, were seen as hostile and the book was not published in Italy until the 1950s.

Films to be watched before arriving

  • Don Giovanni’, film directed by Joseph Losey (1979)
    One of Mozart’s greatest operas filmed in Venice’s most beautiful settings and in the ‘Ville Venete’ with Ruggero Raimondi in the title role. Lorin Maazel conducts the orchestra of the Opera de Paris (see trailer).
  • Ripley’s Game’, film directed by Liliana Cavani
    A gripping thriller starring John Malkovitch set in the world of illegal art trafficking. Apart from a well-constructed plot and faultless acting, the film is of interest because it was shot in the beautiful Villa Emo at Fanzolo near Treviso (see trailer).

The perfect setting for a little music

  • Splendore a Venezia
    A compilation of musical pieces composed in Venice between the 16th and 18th centuries. A wonderful selection of love madrigals, religious songs, oboe concertos, operatic arias, and flute sonatas; all of which can claim an appropriate place in the decor, background, and atmosphere of the Castello di Roncade.
  • Le Siècle du Titien’, interpreted by the Doulce Mémoire ensemble
    Twenty-three Venetian airs (mostly madrigals) of the mannerist period played on faithful copies of 16th century lutes and recorders (extract). An acoustic treat of soaring voices and late Renaissance music.
Some of the links below will enable you to consult the recommended titles directly on Amazon.com. If you decide to purchase one of these titles via this link, please note that intoHistory will receive a small commission on your transaction, which goes towards covering its running costs.

Guests comments

Évaluation selon 1 avis:

Historical authenticity
Ambiance and settings
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Gery de Pierpont

10-03-2015

Several weeks after my stay in Castello di Roncade, my head is still whirling with Renaissance memories and flavors of fine wines, golden light and works of art. This palace is magical. It kept its original atmosphere thanks to the especially hard work and dedication of the Ciani Bassetti family.
Some of the rooms are decorated with purely authentic old paintings and furniture (in the castle itself), the other ones (in the bastions) have been rearranged - they look a little bit less like antique shops...
The Patriarca Room, on the first floor of the castle, is one of the largest of the villa. It is as impressive as a living room, with its 6 meters high beamed ceiling, tall leaded windows, gorgeous glass chandelier, marble bathroom and Renaissance balcony.
The traditional Venetian floor of the room is particularly interesting, with its several coats of stucco (tailor’s chalk, cooked oil and ocher dyeing earth) and a finish layer of raw linseed oil + wax. The granito surface underneath is still to be seen here and there, under this rare semi-transparent coating, known as "Pastellino".

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Historical authenticity
Ambiance and settings
Quality of welcome
Degree of comfort

16th century Chateau B&B/Guest House 150-220€/room

Ideal for families

Castello di Roncade
Barone Ciani Bassetti
Via Roma, 141
31056 RONCADE-TREVISO
Italy
+39 0422 708736
+39 0422 840964 (fax)
Castle’s own website

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