We all know the fame of this great nineteenth-century man of letters, but perhaps not many know that Ugo Foscolo lived and deeply loved the Veneto.
The poet was born in Zakynthos, then under Venetian possession, in 1778 to a doctor father, trained at the University of Padua and a Greek noblewoman mother. After the premature death of his father, at the age of 14, Ugo, with his mother and brothers, moved to Venice, where he learned and practiced the Venetian dialect, honing the language through profound and passionate reading.
In 1796, however, he felt the need to open up to new knowledge and so it was that, stimulated by cultural ferment, he moved to Padua with the intention of following university courses.
It was precisely here that Ugo soon became noticed by the rich Venetian lords for his innate and promising qualities. These noble families were landowners and fabric merchants, who built their sumptuous villas in the countryside in these areas (many designed by the great Andrea Palladio), to escape the frenzy of the Serenissima and take refuge in a sort of ante literam holiday.
To support himself and make himself known in society, the poet himself repaid his stays by writing essays and odes to the families who welcomed him.
At the time Foscolo was little more than a boy, just 19 years old, but he had already shown enough culture and wisdom, so much so that he was desired by Toderini, among his most appreciated guests. In fact, he was hosted in the Villa Toderini in Codognè, where he wrote two works: the song "La Croce" and the ode "Il mio tempo". The room that hosted him is one of the rooms with the most suggestive view: a broad view of the park of the villa and this certainly influenced the poet's writing. This room today bears his name.
Another place he loved very much and which hosted him in Veneto was Villa Cittadella Vigodarzere, today Villa Gottardo, near Abano Terme, precisely in the town of Feriole. It is precisely thanks to the name of this small town that today it can be said that the Villa was the place of inspiration for composing one of his greatest and most famous works: "The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis".
In fact, Foscolo himself, albeit sporadically, mentions "La Ceriola", an analogy of Ceriole and therefore Feriole, which then leads back to the villa in question. Right here today stands a plaque in memory of the poet's presence. In his novel Foscolo sets the retreat of the young Jacopo Ortis, the protagonist, in the Euganean Hills and describes the Euganean Hills with the moods of the forest that pervade the senses, the frost on autumn days, the daily life of the village and the work of Man on the plain designed by the crops, suggestions that form the backdrop to Jacopo's solitary retreat.
The work was not written during his stay in Padua, but rather once he moved to Milan and subsequently to Bologna, mindful of those landscapes that had aroused strong emotions in him and which he wanted to revive in the character of his masterpiece.
The Euganean Hills are also the protagonists of the Palladian Tours that you find here