Nestled amidst the picturesque landscape of Northern Italy, Il Palazzetto is a masterpiece of design, with a history crafted across generations.
Acquired by Aldo Businaro in 1964, the Palladian-style villa located in Monselice, an ancient town a 30-minute drive south of Padua, was all but unliveable.
Determined to transform their family home, Businaro who worked in design, engaged Tobia Scarpa, who helped him with some of the first renovations. However, after being introduced to Tobia's father, the renowned Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, Businaro found his ideal collaborator for the project.
Scarpa's approach involved responding to the villa's 17th-century story, rather than rewriting it, which was a perfect fit for Businaro's vision. For the following four decades, the process of renovating the villa brought together two generations from each family, the Businaro’s and the Scarpa’s, intertwining their lives and histories. Scarpa's imaginative spirit ran free in the project, which offered him the opportunity to explore his passion for the almost extinct artisanal craftsmanship of his native Veneto region. However, in his revision of Il Palazzetto, Scarpa drew upon rural influences rather than the urban traditions of Veneto that he was more accustomed to.
During the years of his involvement, Scarpa worked on several constructions: the surrounding wall, the swimming pool, a double row of poplars, the planting of most of the trees in the park, the ground floor living room, the large farmyard redesigned in a modern key, and the rearrangement of the twentieth-century barchessa (barn) to the north.
The final element was to be a staircase that would run parallel to the front of Il Palazzetto, a design Scarpa had been trying to perfect for years. His final plans for this were in his possession when he died. It was Businaro’s youngest son who pursued the completion of the stairs, asking again Carlo's son Tobia to oversee the project. This proved to be a difficult task as Tobia had sworn never to put his hand to his father’s work. It took him almost a decade to agree to the task, which he did knowing it would be the sons parting gift to their ailing father.
Unifying the entire project, the stairs have a graceful presence on the property and also signifies the completion of the interaction between historical and modern influence. A posthumous testimony of the two men who were united in pursuit of beauty.
Although Tobia had the final say when in 2007, he gave Il Palazzetto its finishing touch: a lofty rectangular glass awning poised on thin fluted iron pylons that shelters the ground-floor entrance. Humbler and smaller than his father’s stairway, it is a postscript all his own and one that, for both families, marks the closing of a circle. As Tobia said to Aldo's son Ferdinando when he agreed to take on this final job, “from father to son, and son to father.”
Words — Adapted from NY Times article
Design — Carlo Scarpa & Tobia Scarpa
Location — Monselice, Italy