Villa Valmarana “ai Nani” stands on a hill near the centre of Vicenza, and owes its nickname to the 17 grotesque-style statues of dwarves (nani) in 18th century clothing that line the boundary wall.
The complex, built in the 1600 and 1700s, has three buildings: the large atrium with colonnade and stables; the guest house with a reception room surrounded by other rooms: and the villa with the characteristic layout of central reception room surrounded by smaller rooms.
The villa is famous for the extraordinary fresco cycle by Giambattista Tiepolo who, commissioned by Giustino Valmarana, painted the central building with themes from his patron’s favourite books, and his son Giandomenico, who painted the guesthouse, leaving the room of the Olympian Gods to his father’s hand.
The residence, still inhabited by the Valmarana family, is surrounded by a range of gardens. At the centre of the complex is the Italian garden with rose beds and Osmanthus fragrans trees. Adjacent is a rectangular structure known as the little theatre and a well.
The estate is set amidst woodland while the park features two long boundaries of green and arcades of European hornbeam which embellish the setting and offer shade to walkers. To the north is a nymphaeum, with a niche containing a large statue of a triton riding a dolphin.