Architectural experts are concerned that a high-speed railway development between Verona and Padua could cause damage to a seventeenth-century villa containing the works of Andrea Palladio, one of the most influential architects in Western history.
Experts believe that the proposed railway may also jeopardize Vicenza’s cultural landscape crafted by Palladio, including Villa Valmarana ai Nani, named for the 17 stone dwarfs that surround the home, and frescoes by Venetian artist Giambattista Tiepolo.
The current owners fear for the stability of the hill on which the villa is situated and cracks that may be caused to the property due to the nearby construction of a tunnel that is planned to form part of the new rail link. The tunnel is expected to run for 30 metres beneath the villa’s foundations.
Regional trade associations are backing the rail line in the hope that it will bring economic opportunities by connecting Vicenza to the greater European rail network. Plans were passed in a Vicenza city council meeting and the project has the backing of local politicians and the city’s mayor, Achille Variati. The town of Vicenza and the Palladian villas in the Veneto region became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The city is regarded as the birthplace of Palladian architecture, a style that spread to the rest of Europe and to the United States. UNESCO is getting involved in the discussions and has requested more information about the impact of the project on the Vicenza area. In the meantime, construction work on the Verona–Padua high-speed line is scheduled to begin on June 31, 2015.