Our Ambassador Griff Rhys Jones writes about the pleasures of a winter break at Villa dei Vescovi
Just to the west of Padua, on a cold winter’s afternoon, with a slight mist hanging over the scattered surrounding farmsteads in the flat, flat landscape around the Po, I glanced up and suddenly made out some unexpected humps in the sky to the north. These were the Euganean Hills; ripples from the explosive force that created the Alps millions of years ago. They are quite lovely.
Everybody seeks out nearby Venice, but only the canny hide among these hills. In winter there are fewer tourists in exquisite villages such as Arqua Petrarcha. Many of the restaurants that litter the hills are shut in winter, but the good ones stay open and serve slow food in fire-lit interiors. Villa dei Vescovi, where we are staying, is one of the most beautiful surviving palaces in these hills. In the 1530s the Veronese painter and architect Giovanni Falconetto designed it for the Bishop of Padua, and those Renaissance bishops exercised few qualms about their own indulgence.
A woman called Antonella, flourishing a large key, led us down the side of ornate walls to the main gates. Across the parterre and beyond an ancient cedar, two gigantic flights of stairs that might have troubled artist Piranesi with their disproportionate grandeur swooped up from the loggia. It took a moment to realise they were ‘our’ stairs. Antonella pointed out that we were free to make use of the rest of the palace – several thousand feet of frescoed piano nobile. No photograph can quite convey the charm of the two Landmark apartments inside. The properties are so unique they seem to be beyond reference points.
We’re offering three nights for the price of two or four nights for the price of three at both apartments at Villa Dei Vescovi:Mansarda del Vigneto and Mansarda del Frutteto.
Book online now. The price of stays until the end of March 2017 have already been marked down on our website in the availability and booking tab for each apartment.
Please note that this offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other Landmark Trust offer.
A fuller version of this article was first published on the Daily Mail website. Griff is one of Landmark's Ambassadors, a group of high profile supporters who share our passion for remarkable historic buildings.