History and legend of the dwarfs

Villa Valmarana ai Nani dates back to 1669. Its construction was commissioned by Giovanni Maria Bertolo, a lawyer; then the mansion was inherited by Bertolo's daughter, Giulia, a nun living in the convent of All Saints in Padua and in 1715 Giustino Valmarana purchased the Villa from the convent.

The enlargement of Villa Valmarana ai Nani is due to Giustino, who appointed the architect Francesco Muttoni to develop the entrances, the stable and the Foresteria (which formerly was a barchessa, a typical Italian rural building).


The legend of the dwarfs and princess Layana

On the boundary wall of Villa Valmarana ai Nani there are 17 grotesque dwarfs looking outside. The Italian word for dwarf is nano: the full name of the Villa is after those statues.

Inspired to the Callot's drawings, made famous by the prints of the Remondinis of Bassano del Grappa, the Villa's dwarfs represent traditional characters of the Commedia dell'Arte (the famous Italian form of theatrical comedy). Some scholars think that the author of the preliminary drawings was Giandomenico Tiepolo. Linked to the dwarfs is the legend of a dwarf girl, Princess Layana. She was segregated by her parents inside the family castle togheter with 20 dwarf servants, with the aim of making her unaware of her deformity. But when the secret was unveiled the unfortunate girl commited suicide.