Pal­la­dian beau­ties

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holidays For Seniors - GUARDIAN NEWS & ME­DIA LTD 2013

Con­tin­ued from Page 7 Gior­gio Ar­mani. Count Leopoldo’s ball­room floor was re­cently cracked by an earth­quake, Count Al­berto merely had a ceil­ing fall down ‘‘Paf! Just like that’’! Count Al­berto sells pro­duce from his orchard, such as cher­ries, apri­cots, ap­ples, pears and quinces, whereas Count Leopoldo said: ‘‘I pro­duce noth­ing, agri­cul­ture is fin­ished.’’

We eaves­drop­pers de­clared the con­test a draw.

Trav­el­ling by high­ways and main roads, the flat land­scape of the Veneto can be a dis­mal pro­ces­sion of hal­fa­ban­doned in­dus­trial es­tates, sub­ur­banised vil­lages, tin sheds sell­ing fur­ni­ture or plumb­ing sup­plies, and a star­tling num­ber of McDon­ald’s.

How­ever, the vil­las, with fields of grapes or veg­eta­bles com­ing al­most up to their walls ( Villa Ca’ Mar­cello is un­usual in hav­ing that ro­man­tic wood­land gar­den, for most the soil was too rich to waste much land on plea­sure gar­dens) stand in a land­scape that has hardly changed.

There are no vis­i­tor fa­cil­i­ties ex­cept a small shop at La Ro­tonda, but Count Nic­colo re­vealed he is plan­ning to open a cafe and bar in the farm build­ings next year. This was news to his neigh­bour in the villa across the lane, who j ust hap­pens to be his cousin, Count­ess Carolina Val­marana.

Last year, she opened her own charm­ing bar (open ev­ery day even when the house is closed) in the coach house of her beau­ti­ful Villa Val­marana, where the prin­ci­pal rooms are com­pletely cov­ered in fres­coes by two of the most fa­mous Vene­tian artists, Gi­ambat­tista Tiepolo and his son Gian­domenico.

Count Al­berto Panssi de Pre­po­sulo, a cam­paigner for or­ganic pro­duce, slow food and eco-tourism, is also the pres­i­dent and pow­er­house of the Ville Venete pro­ject, driv­ing the oth­ers for­ward by ex­am­ple. His wife helps make the jams and pre­serves that are sold in their farm shop. He leads tours of his beau­ti­ful Villa Tiepolo Passi, in­clud­ing the end­less suite of rooms through which he and his four broth­ers used to race on their bi­cy­cles.

Count Al­berto also re­searches an­cient recipes, shares a glass of wine with the lodgers, speaks at travel trade shows, and hires lo­cal mu­si­cians and po­ets to en­ter­tain at the din­ners he has launched in one of the es­tate build­ings.

So far, just 50 of the villa own­ers have joined him, leav­ing al­most 4200 to win over. He is not a man to be daunted by such a statistic. ‘‘There is far to go, but it is well be­gun.’’

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