With this excursion we will discover Piazzola sul Brenta in a new version: a land rich in nature, rural scenery and magnificent architecture. We will cross the “fiefdom” of the Camerini as far as the hamlet where Andrea Mantegna was born.
Start point:Piazzola sul Brenta, Piazza Camerini
Finish point:Isola di Carturo
Total distance:20 km
Duration:max 3 hours
Grade of difficulty:easy
Suitable for: all riders
Tour type: excursion
Piazzola sul Brenta is distinct from the other Paduan localities for its special urban layout: from the avenue that leads to the town square roads branch off that intersect in an orthogonal manner, onto which numerous workers houses from the start of the 20th century face. Such details are the result of the historical events tied to the presence of the noble families of the Contarini and the Camerini. The first, already proprietors of extensive estates at the beginning of the fifteenth century, built the monumental villa, fulcrum of the area, whilst the second, at the end of the nineteenth century, initiated an unusual development project based on the improvement of agriculture and the construction of craftwork and industrial buildings. Thanks to the initiative of Paolo Camerini, within a few years Piazzola sul Brenta was transformed into an important industrial centre. In 1920 there were working six hydro-electric plants, a sulphuric acid plant, a fertiliser plant, a cement works, a sawmill, two brick furnaces, two spinning mills, some agro-food laboratories and an unusual jute mill, whose high chimney stands out over the ex-industrial area, today a site of historical interest. Having reached the main square of the town one arrives in front of the majestic Villa Contarini – Foundation G. E. Ghirardi. A quick look is surprising: the gaze is captured by the princely residence while at the sides the field of view is blocked by a double colonnade on the right and by a high wall of trees on the left. The central wing of the villa is from the sixteenth century and is attributed by some to Palladio; to this was added numerous annexes and decorations during the seventeenth century. Belonging to this later period there are also room frescoes, the work of Michele Primon. In the nineteenth century the villa passed from hand to hand again and again until the Camerini succeeded the Correr to give new splendour to the building, enriching it with art and book collections.
Leaving the inner city we head towards the Brenta river; the riverside scene in this stretch is very striking: great quantities of poplars, willows and robinias allow us to make out the river on one side and neatly cultivated fields on the other. The area is of great natural interest for the quality of the river water, for the richness of the flora and for the environmental diversity. Amongst these there are the man-made, like the lakes that originate from gravel excavations, wetlands particularly sought-after by marsh bird. Leaving the river behind us, we take the Via Pastorizia, whose name recalls the passage of flocks directed towards the uplands of Asiago or Monte Grappa.
Having gone beyond the Padua-Marostica provincial road we reach Isola Mantegna, a rural hamlet where Andrea Mantegna was born in 1431. In the vicinity two villas merit a visit: Villa Ramina called the Colombina (from its dove-grey stonework), a robust building in Lombard style dating to the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and Villa da Ponte – Paccagnella, attributed to Palladio. The sixteenth century building with a large barn and oratory is approached by a wide central stairway on which stands a gabled loggia. The return to the departure point is on quiet secondary roads between meadows and cultivated fields of corn and maize