Built in the 1570c. for the prelate Paolo
Almerico, once referendario apostolico of the Popes Pio IV and Pio V, La Rotonda -
the more famous invention of Palladio - is an original example
of villa of the prelate. Tipologically it differs from the other Palladio's
buildings: in fact, it hasn't a longitudinal plane and it is also the only crowned by a
cupola (that in the original map appeared hemispherical and
La Rotonda differentiates in the scenery of the venetian villas of the latter half of the '500: it's a suburban mansion, refined meeting point for the aristocratic of Vicenza, place of amusement and "literary idleness." Only Capra family, that acquired it in the 1591, ordered to Vincenzo Scamozzi the adjacent buildings assigned to the agricultural life.
In the villa designed for the prelate, Palladio introduces, thus, formal elements assigned to suggest a significance of sacredness. Palladio probably was ispired by the roman Pantheon, then named "Rotonda", resuming the classical theme of the "sacred space" that comes from the contamination between the different formal models of the circle and of the quadrate, of the cube and of the sphere. Palladio opts for the central plan, crowns the building with the cupola, repeats four times the classical pronao, realizing a "villa-tempio" that celebrates the prestige of the commissioner and his important offices beside Popes.
Also the sixteenth century frescoes, by Alessandro and Giambattista Maganza and by Anselmo Canera, appear in tuning with this celebrating program. There are many Allegories connected to the Virtues of the religious life. In the cupola, for example, are represented (near the Celebrity) the Religion, the Benignity, the Moderation and the Chastity. The west Room, besides, was named "Room of the Religion" just for the subject of the ceiling frescoes, while in the east Room there is the apologetical Allegory of Paolo Almerico, crowned from the Celebrity and surrounded from the Fidelity, from the Affability, from the Persuasion and from Europe (symbol of the reason oriented toward the divine).
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