Nicolò Molin (1562-1608), who was one of the most important politician of the “Serenissima”, decided to build a new villa just outside Padova, knonw as “il palazzo al ponte della Cagna”.
Niccolò was the venetian ambassador to Florence and to James I of England (1603-1606, savio di terraferma (cousellor of the Republic) (1601-1603), and in 1607 he married the doughter of the Doge Marino Grimani.
When Nicolò wished to erect a villa for summer use that would be suited to the family's standing, it was natural to turn to Scamozzi, first among Venetian architects since the death of Palladio in 1580. He was responsible for the completion of the Villa Rotonda after Palladio's death, and designed the low central dome modelled on that of the Pantheon with a central oculus
The villa was rapidly completed but not long enjoyed by its patron, who died on 9 May, 1608.
After his death the house was inherited by his brother Francesco.
Seven years later he conveyed the villa to conte Pio Capodilista who had many properties in the area; it passed to his son Annibale, then to the heirs of Annibale's sister Sigismonda. Alienated from the Conti family in 1768-72, its return was the signal for a thorough-going restoration of its interiors in the hands of conte Antonio, Capodilista, which gave to the smaller rooms the rococo stucco decorations of their vaulted ceilings.
Passing through heiresses in the nineteenth century, the villa's lands were subdivided and it was eventually reduced to a farmhouse before being rehabilitated by a sympathetic new owner, marquis Michele Dondi dell' Orologio. He provided the villa with its grand exterior staircase to the piano nobile and planted the surrounding parkland with specimen trees, now at full maturity.
During World War I, the villa served as military command headquarters and was the site of preliminary negotiations that led to the signing of the Austrian-Italian Armistice of Villa Giusti on 3th novembre 1918. In 1955 Villa Molin was restored again by the industrialist Igino Kofler, who replanted the formal Italian walled gardens with boxwood-edged beds.
The perfect geometrical coherence of the villa is the trademark of its creator and one of the distinctive features of the building.
The interior of the villa is truly magnificent and is even more stunning than the exterior.
The stucco-faced structure is built on a perfectly square plan, raised on a high rusticated service basement with an Ionic portico, lifted well above the public towpath and facing the Canal. This primary façade of the villa is reminiscent of Andrea Palladio's Villa Rotonda or the Villa Foscari (called "La Malcontenta").
The solid sides of the pronaos are pierced by grand arch-headed openings to provide additional cross-draft in summer heat.
The villa's other façades are simply treated and harmoniously symmetrical, with central Serlian windows, surmounted by the rectangular lanterna formed by the high cubical central room that rises through the center of the roof, lit by tripartite lunette windows on each face.
The grand central room thus enclosed is frescoed with feigned architecture — niches, columns, balustrades — and flanked by symmetrically arranged smaller and lower barrel-vaulted rooms that are linked by generous arched openings. Thus there is an articulated central reception space in the form of a Greek cross. The vestibules give onto more intimate spaces, in a series of cubes, double cubes and "golden mean" rectangles characteristic of cinquecento villa floorplans.