There are plenty of reasons to check out the pretty landscape of the Euganean Hills south of Padua. Fantastic hikes, cute villages with well-preserved medieval cores and warm springs would be just a few of them. One place you definitely shouldn’t miss in the area is the beautiful baroque garden of the Villa Barbarigo, which has been voted as “Italy’s most beautiful garden” in 2003.
Over the years, we’ve had the chance explore quite a few of the country’s gardens and the one at Villa Barbarigo certainly stands out. With pretty canals, plenty of historic statues, lots of interesting architectural elements, countless fountains, flowering bushes, as well as a unique rabbit island and a super cool maze, the garden certainly sets itself apart from many competitors for the title.
It’s easy to combine a visit to the garden with a day-trip exploring other sights around the Euganean Hills. However, I recommend making this your first stop to be able to enjoy the surroundings with as much tranquillity as possible. Read on for everything you need to know about visiting Villa Barbarigo Garden.
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What are the opening times of Villa Barbarigo Garden?
The garden is open from the last weekend of February to the second weekend of December, from 10AM to 1PM and from 2PM to sunset during weekdays and from 10AM to Sunset non-stop on Saturdays and Sundays. You can double-check the times here.
The Labyrinth can be explored from 11AM to 1PM and 2.30PM until 60 minutes prior to the garden’s closure at sundown. You’ll get a time slot when buying your ticket at the entrance.
I recommend coming when it opens or a bit before it closes to enjoy the surroundings with as much tranquillity as possible. Make sure you bring enough time, though. With a visit to the maze, we spent about two hours here.
How much is the entrance fee to Villa Barbarigo Garden?
The entrance fee is 12€ for adults and 6,50€ for children, with the maze being an extra 4€. While not exactly cheap, we found the price alright for the sizeable and well-kept garden, especially since without any state aid, most of the profits go into the upkeep of the place.
Guided tours to the Villa Barbarigo Garden
Without your own transport, the most hassle-free way to get around the Euganean Hills would be to take an organized tour from Padua. For instance, this tour includes both entrance to the garden as well as the famous Villa Vescovi in nearby Luvigliano, transport and a local guide.
How to get to Villa Barbarigo Garden
Reaching Valsanzibio by public bus is possible, but it requires a bit of pre-planning. Bus Number E006 from Padua to Este passes through the village. It takes about an hour and at the time of writing only goes three times a day. You can check the current timetable of Padua’s suburban buses on this site.
At the time of writing, the first possible bus you can take from Padua reaches Valsanzibio at 12.45PM, while the last return bus leaves 2PM, giving you only about an hour to explore the garden. If you want more time, I suggest either getting a rental car or taking a guided tour (see above).
If you decide to rent a car in Padua (or elsewhere), have a look below to find the best deals:
What is there to see in Villa Barbarigo Garden?
Having been constructed between 1665 and 1696, the complex is a wonderful example of the baroque gardening tradition, combining natural and man-made features to form a perfect whole. There are plenty of statues of mythological and allegorical figures all over the grounds, my favourite of which was a statue representing time incarnate.
The central avenue traversing the garden from north to south is home to a series of ponds populated my swans, ducks and the occasional turtle. At the southern end stands Diana’s Pavilion, the former entrance to the garden and a wonderful example of baroque architecture.
In the northwestern corner is also an allegorical Hermit’s Grotto, devised as a place to meditate on your insights gained during your journey through the nearby maze. Another highlight is the Rabbit Island, populated by several different breeds of (well, you guessed it) rabbits.
The Villa Barbarigo itself is still in use and therefore not open to the public, but you can have a look at the outside from the eastern end of the main east-west pathway. Slightly to the south are the villa’s former stables, where a small food truck sells snacks and drinks in a pleasant garden.
Villa Barbarigo’s historic maze dates to the second half of the 17th century and is comprised of 6,000 boxwood plants. A visit to the central viewing tower is included in the general admission ticket, but if you want to explore parts of its 1,5km long pathway, you’ll have to get a timed ticket.
While it’s referred to as a labyrinth, we were delighted to discover that this is actually a maze, making navigating it at least a bit of a challenge. We encountered plenty of dead ends, and as the path through the maze is meant to represent the way to salvation, quite a few had signboards with moral lessons (I totally fell prey to the Arrogance:). It’s a lot of fun and for us was one of the highlights of our visit to the garden.
Other things to do in the Euganean Hills
Villa Barbarigo can be combined with other cool experiences in the area. Stay tuned for my guide to the Euganean Hills!