After the town of Dolo the race course of the Venicemarathon enters in the territory of Mira along the Brenta Riviera and its stunning Venetian villas.
Entering the territory of Mira, the water will be the key element of the race course: Brenta’s branches and the waterway characterize the landscape till the Venetian lagoon.
The waters flowing in the territory started to be regimented with various works from the thirteenth century, firstly under the influence of the Signori of Padua and then, from the 16th century, under the stable domain of the Venetian Republic.
Along the way, the first city center you will find is the historic town of Mira “Porte”, called in this way because of the floodgates used for navigation of the ships. The main means of transport used by the Venetian nobles to reach the Venetian countryside was the Burchiello, a river boat that connected the two centers of Venice and Padua: in the lagoon it was driven by the force of the oars till the mainland and once there it was towed by draught animals to Padua. For the transport of goods there were used similar boats called burci.
Along the Brenta river, more or less near Gambarare, you can admire the beautiful Villa Widmann-Rezzonico-Foscari, a building composed by a central body, barchessa and oratorio, built at the end of the 18th century by the noble family of Persian origin, the Sceriman, in the area called Riscossa. Inside the villa there is a hall dedicated to the gondola and the artisan crafts associated with it, while a beautiful collection of ancient carriages is displayed in the portico of the barchessa. Gambarare is today a part of the municipality of Mira, although it was an important place in the past, as the seat of Provveditoria was located right in its ancient Market Square.
Opposite to Villa Widmann there is another splendid building, the Barchessa of Villa Valmarana, the only surviving part of the eighteenth-century Villa Valmarana. The barchessa was traditionally the place where the boats were restored, function from which the name originates, in order to leave the passage of the river Brenta free.
In the eighteenth century, the Riviera del Brenta became a place of holiday and big parties, the Valmarana family decided to convert the barchessa into a guesthouse where to give hospitality to the “foresti”, visiting relatives and friends, and the interior has been completely painted to provide the adequate level of hospitality.
*Stories by run is a weekly column written by Venice by Run for the VMC – Venice Marathon Club events magazine.