Over the following centuries, the Fracanzan became increasingly involved in the political life of the area and were active in the widespread land reclamation works instituted by the Venetian Republic. By the beginning of the eighteenth century they had established themselves as one of the most important families in Vicenza. In order to consolidate their image, they commissioned the Lugano architect Francesco Muttoni to design a villa and garden.
The villa hosted an important literary salon and was the home for many years of Elisabetta Turra Caminer (Venice 1751 – Orgiano 1796), the first woman in Italy to work as a journalist, and famous for her enlightenment ideas.
The town of Orgiano first appears in the centuriation, or Roman grid system, and was later a Longobard settlement. It has played a role in all of the major historical events of the last centuries. The villa was occupied by Napoleonic troops after the battle of Arcole, by Austrian soldiers in 1866, by the Italian High Command during World War I, and by the Wehrmacht in 1945.
In 1870, the properties of the Fracanzan were taken over by the Orgian family, and subsequently passed by inheritance to the Piovene family.
Muttoni had derived his Baroque style from Borromini but had also studied Palladio and published an important architectural study on the earlier master: Architettura di Andrea Palladio vicentino, including drawings of Palladio’s works and his own observations on them. Muttoni was responsible for many early 18th-century villas and buildings in and around Vicenza.
In planning the design of the villa at Orgiano, Muttoni had to incorporate parts of the pre-existing medieval buildings and find ways of overcoming the difficulties posed by the particularities of the site. His solution, a monumental baroque structure of a type that is rare in the Veneto region, shows numerous decorative elements in the Palladian tradition. Muttoni’s drawings for the villa complex are conserved in the National Library of Congress in Washington and in private archives in Italy.
On the ground floor the villa is laid out around a colonnaded central reception room which has various rooms leading off it: the billiard room, the plebiscite room with its historical memorabilia, and the dining room with its display of plates and the table set with an antique dinner service. The villa’s renowned kitchen, with its collections of copper pots and cooking utensils, is famous for the 16th-century sink in red Verona marble designed by the Veronese architect Farinati and which, according to local legend, narrowly missed being transported to the Louvre by Napoleon.
On the first floor is the large ballroom, the porcelain room, the bedrooms with four-poster beds, the Napoleonic room, bathrooms and the old-fashioned ironing room.