Palladio's Villas Week 6 & 7: The rest!

August 27, 2021 | 4 Comments

So just like that, I’ve finished sketching my way through all the villas of Palladio! There are a few villas that I want to return to and sketch again but it feels great to have finished this  2-month long project.

And it’s perfect timing as I’m having a break for the next two weeks. I had planned a mini road trip and a week at the beach, but lockdown has meant that I can’t do that right now. But I have a plan for some serious local exploration as part of my exercise for each day and lots of sketching. So I’m excited about that. I’ll share more on Monday.

Anyway… to get back to Palladio’s villas… here are the remaining ones.

PV23: Barchessa Di Villa Thiene

Another villa where all that remains is part of the barchesse (farm outbuildings). In this case, it’s a very grand one with pilasters (flat columns) and arches. I drew a fairly accurate elevation of the building…

… and then returned to it on the Monday following as I wanted to sketch a Google street view.


PV24: Villa Emo

One of my favourite villas – and it has been described as the perfect villa – since it contains all the important parts of Palladio’s ideas.

I have so many memories from visiting this villa with Palladian Odyssey groups, wonderful tours by Monica, buying and then reading Palladio’s Four Books here, teaching perspective workshops and being terrorized by a robotic lawnmower!

I did two versions of this villa – the first was a very quick and loose front-on view of the villa itself.

The second sketch (seen in the context of the whole spread) was also a quick and loose sketch using my ‘pointless perspective’ tricks (as explained inside my Buildings course – Group Run-through coming in October!)

So nice to be sketching this building again.

PV25: Villa Repeta

I don’t know very much about this one and it was hard to find any reference photos of this facade.

Note: When I sketch from photos I always refer to a few different ones at the same time so that my sketch is a combination of a number of views and/or lighting conditions. This keeps my work fresh and also means that I’m not copying any one photo.

PV26 Barchesse grandi di Villa Pisani

This is the barchesse for Villa Pisani which I sketched a while ago (PV06 – see here). It’s now a 4-star hotel and hidden by trees. There were no descriptive photos to be found online except for an old B&W on the Palladian Museum site, so I did a quick and rough version and added colour.

PV27 VIlla Valmarana Lisiera

The afternoon after our Palladian Tours finished, a group would normally catch a bus ride to La Rotunda (see below) and then walk back to Vicenza. I usually spent that afternoon in my hotel room writing a blogpost but on the last tour in 2019 decided to join the group. I’m so thankful that I did (in light of what has happened since) as not only did I get to revisit La Rotunda, but I also got to see this one.

The floor plan on the side was done as part of my Sketchbook Design course in response to a question about secondary sketches as a design element. (Livestream 3 if you missed it)

And of course another houndstooth cup!

PV28: Villa Forni Cerato

Another highlight of my 2019 visit to Italy was getting a special tour of this villa, meeting the owner and being part of a new discovery. You can read more about that here.

As for the sketch, I was feeling really tired on this particular day so it was a quick and slightly wonky version.

PV29: Villa Sarego

So I never thought that I would think about the Big Merino (see here) while sketching a Palladian villa, but that’s exactly what happened when sketching these columns! All that remains of this villa in a partial courtyard with these incredible rusticated columns. Definitely the most unusual Palladian building!

Another day when I didn’t have time to do this villa justice but it was fun to do some research and have a better appreciation for it.

PV30: Villa Almerico Capra – La Rotunda

Yesterday’s sketch is in a way the last villa sketch as PV31 is just a few columns. As my notes say below, it was the first villa I visited and the last (to date!)

This is Palladio’s most famous villa – a centralised plan with porticos (temple fronts) on all four sides. It’s been copied many times (eg. Vanbrugh’s Temple of the four winds at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire) and is an incredible building. However, it doesn’t really fit with the other villas as it’s not a working farm.

Last night while doing research on this building I re-read Colin Rowe’s essay: The Mathematics of an Ideal Villa. Rowe compares two Palladian villas with two villas by Le Corbusier. This essay (which I discovered as an architecture student at university) was the reason I became a true Palladian fangirl. And it was probably a catalyst for my love of Le Corb as well.

Anyway… time for the last villa sketch of this project….

PV31 Villa Porto Molina

All that remains are 10 large columns. I added a little collage (including some sparkly black tape) just for something different.

There is so much more to this project than what I’ve shared in these blog articles as I’ve spent time doing research for each villa. The two books on the left have been my constant companion and the book on the right arrived this week and looks amazing!

I’m even more in love with Palladio’s work after working through all his villas and look forward to moving onto his palaces in a few weeks time when I return from my break.

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me!




  • Jamie C says:

    I’m now in love with Palladio, too! And that houndstooth cup! I laughed out loud at your being terrorized by a robotic lawnmower! Lol! What a vivid memory! Your pages and layouts here are really beautiful, too, with so much variety and flow!

    • Liz Steel says:

      ah! that makes me happy Jamie. Palladio and houndstooth- what a combo!!!! And so glad you like my page layouts, I’m having so much fun with them at the moment (thanks to Sketchbook Design prep and simply reminding me of all the design principles I can use!)

  • Jamie C says:

    I’ve long wondered, when you scan your sketchbook pages, do you scan each side and stitch them back together in Photoshop? Your images are always so clear, and very little shadow in the gutters, what’s your secret? Lol!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Jamie – yes I scan… these ones are in three scans with the spine perpendicular to the direction of the scanning light (no shadows). Photomerge in photoshop makes it easy to combine and then I edit -adjusting the white using the dodge tool manually for any shadow areas caused by the buckling of the paper.

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