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Seventeenth century Venetian Villa located in the heart of the Po Delta Nature Reserve

The estate was built by the Venetian Patrician Family called “Zen, in the beginning of 1700. In that époque many Venetian families used to come and colonize the Delta, cultivating the land, building estates and shooting lodges.

Back to 1400, in that exact spot there already was a small alter probably dedicated to the Saint Margherita. This is testified by a stone tabernacle reporting the date 1459 – now placed inside the chapel.

The Chapel faces the River (all churches in Polesine face the River Po), and is beautiful in its simplicity and austerity. On the altar there are two lovely statues, representing Mary and the Archangel Gabriel during the “Annunciation” . These two statues, together with others you will encounter around the garden, all date back to 1700, and were created by the Bolognese School of the famous Bonazza.

The centre part of the Villa (with it’s typical Venetian plant), the stables, the Portico and Chapel, date back to 1700, while the two wings of the Villa, cottages, and immense barns date back to early 1800, and were built by my great grandparents Casalicchio/Avanzo.
The Estate passed on from the Zen to the Marchesi Guiccioli, and then to the Casalicchio/Avanzo.
Romantic and tempestuous is the love story between Contessa Teresa Gamba(married to Alessandro Guiccioli,) and the English Poet Lord George Byron Teresa’s husband, irritated by the love story between Teresa and the Poet, sent his young wife to Ca’ Zen ( then a sad and malaric spot – as described in his diary which still belongs to the family) Yet the distance between Teresa and the brilliant frivolous Venetian life, did not subdue the love between Teresa and the Poet., who came to visit Teresa in Ca’ Zen, and from this home wrote some of his most beautiful lines.

"River ! that floweth by the antient walls where dwells the lady of my love!"

Cà Zen then passed to the Casalicchio/Avanzo , land owners and land reclaimers..

The present lady of the house Elaine Avanzo Westropp Bennett was born in the South of Ireland. She came to Italy in the 1960 and met Cavaliere Pericle Avanzo : they shared equal love for horses and country life. They married, and Elaine never left Polesine.

Hers was the idea to open Cà Zen to Italian and foreign guests, desiring to visit this lesser known and beautiful part of Veneto .Elaine’s was the idea of opening the Villa and gardens to Events, concerts, and special occasions and celebrations.

There is no more beautiful and authentic way of sharing part of the extraordinary Italian art ,cultural and environmental heritage!

Since 2004 Paolo Fratta Pasini and his wife Maria Adelaide Avanzo have begun serious restoration on a few of the buildings on the estate: an engrossing ,fascinating, but extremely challenging project, partly achieved today: the eastern and western wing of the Villa were restored in 2007 and 2012, one of the cottages, and the portico were restored in 2007 and 2005...There is still a LOT of work ahead!

In the east and west wing of the Villa there are beautiful bedrooms, both charming and authentic, on the ground floor there are also reception rooms for meetings and special events., a perfect location, along with gardens, grounds and portico!

One of the cottages has been turned into a charming self catering holiday home, ideal both for Italians and foreigners who wish to enjoy a holiday "in the country"...very near the sea side!"

In the old cellars ,located in the wing which has been closed since 1923, there is now a big reception room which can hold up to 120 guests and is ideal for meetings, conferences, events, and special happenings.


The inside of the Villa, the huge red brick aia, the Chapel, stables, immense barns, the gardens, and cottages, located in “the middle of nowhere” right next to the river, are a perfect setting for photographic shoots ( landscapes, portraits, fashion, brides, nature!)