On Mottolo alla Montecchia, a small upland in the area of the Euganean hills, stands one of the most individual of Veneto villas: Villa Capodilista. Set within a formal Italian garden, this villa was designed by the Verona-born Dario Varotari (1539-1596) and probably built in 1578. The building has a square ground-plan; the individual rooms are created by a single cross-form division of the interior and thus identical. Breaking away from the usual type of Veneto villa, the architect reveals his genius, individual sensibility and visual flair in the carefully-studied placing of each loggia arcade and each window: the result is that all of them offer broad landscape views framed by individual or clustered trees against a background of the Euganean Hills and the Alps. Up to the twentieth century, the loggia – at both ground- and first-floor levels – ran all the way round the building, providing a covered walkway for exercise and meditation. The inspiration for this idea was the old monastic cloister, but here with the layout inverted: instead of looking inwards, the arcades looked outwards.
Varotari had worked as a painter at the nearby monastery of Praglia, and here too he was involved in the pictoral decoration of the villa – with the assistance of the Greek-born Antonio Vassillacchi, known as L’Aliense (1556-1629).
However, it has yet to be established who is to be credited with the grotesques decorating the loggia on the south side: the high quality of both design and execution suggest the involvement of a specialist who had links with the Roman School or was close to Giovanni da Udine. Of the four rooms on the ground floor, the most interesting are those decorated by Varotari: the Camera della Vigna [Vine Room], whose ceiling is decorated with putti clambering around in a pergola of vine leaves and grapes, and the Camera delle Ville [Villa Room], which has views of the other villas owned by the Capodilista family, as well as an allegorical scene showing Time and Virtue Driving out Vice. The villa underwent restoration in the 1960s in work overseen by Mario Botter, who is also the author of a fine monograph on the place.