The southernmost of the three main rivers that empty into the Venetian lagoon, the Brenta caused no end of trouble for the earliest settlers in the area, with its frequent flooding and its deposits of silt. By the sixteenth century, though, the canalization of the river had brought it under control, and it became a favoured building site for the Venetian aristocracy. Some villas were built as a combination of summer residence and farmhouse – many, however, were intended solely for the former function. Around one hundred villas are left on the river between Padua and Venice, though only a handful are open to the public, of which two are outstanding: the Villa Fóscari and the Villa Pisani – both accessible by bus from Venice.

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