The Staircase of the Sonnets

Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani’s Monumental Garden in Valsanzibio
7 steps (the perfect number) with 2 verses per step:


Curioso viator che in questa parte
Giungi e credi mirar vaghezze rare
Quanto di bel, quanto di buon qui appare
Tutto deesi a Natura e nulla ad Arte


Qui il Sol splendenti i raggi suoi comparte
Venere qui più bella esce dal mare
Sue sembianze la Luna ha qui più chiare
Qui non giunge a turbar furor di Marte


Saturno quivi i parti suoi non rode
Qui Giove giova et ha sereno il viso
Quivi perde Mercurio ogni sua frode


Qui non ha loco il Pianto, ha sede il Riso
Della Corte il fulmine qui non s’ode
Ivi è l’Inferno e quivi il Paradiso

English Translation

Curious voyager that in this location
Arrives and thinks of admiring rare things
Whatever beautiful & good you will see here    
All is thanks to nature and not art


Here the sun rays are even more bright
Here Venus is even more beautiful
The moon is here even more shining
Here Mars’ rage 1 is banished 2


Here Saturn does not eat his own children 3
Here Jupiter is happy and smiling 4
Here Mercury 5 loses all his fraud 6


Here you do not cry, but you laugh
Venice’s problems from here are not heard
In Venice there is Hell and here instead there is Paradise

1. The fury of the God of War;

2. Because Valsanzibio is a place of peace and tranquility;

3. This emphasises that Valsanzibio is a place of peace and tranquility; by 1620, Zuane Francesco Barbarigo had bought all the lands in Valsanzibio and in doing so the Barbarigo put an end to the arguments and fratricides wars among the noble Venetian families: Contarini, Michiel and Barbarigo (all related families);

4. Jupiter, the God that regulates the weather, protects the garden and distributes the right amount of sun and rain, fundamental for keeping Valsanzibio healthy;

5. The God-protector of the dealers and the thieves;

6. Once again the aspect of peace and tranquility of Valsanzibio is underlined.

Interpretation of the Sonnet of the Steps

Curious traveler who in these parts
arrive and think you are admiring rare things
How much beautiful, how much good you see here
Everything is thanks to the work of nature and not thanks to the hand of man

Here the sun sends its shining rays
Here Venus is even more beautiful
The moon is brighter here
Mars (God of War) is banished here (because
Valsanzibio is a place of peace and tranquility!)


Saturn does not eat his children here (it underlines again that here is a
place of peace and tranquility thanks to the Barbarigos who, in 1620,
by buying all the lands in Valsanzibio, they put an end to the fratricides
disputes/wars among Venetian nobles: Contarini, Michiel and Barbarigo)

Here Jupiter is happy and smiling (Jupiter, the God who rules and commands
atmospheric agents, protects the garden and provides the right
alternations of sun and rain basic to keep Valsanzibio healthy)

Mercury (God patron of thieves) is at rest here (underlining
once more that this is a place of peace and serenity)

Here we don’t cry, we laugh
The problems of Venice (the Court) are not felt here
In Venice there is hell and here instead there is paradise

The author of the sonnet of the steps is unknown, but it it is likely that it was written by Gregorio Barbarigo himself. At the steps of the sonnet there is a third water trick fountain, and like the previous Fountain of the Tricks (or Water Games), it has a precise role. Here the ‘Voyager’ (visitor) of Valsanzibio finds themselves close to their final goal — at the top of the steps is the Square of the Revelations, the final objective of the purification path which started a long time prior at the Diana’s Pavilion.  Eager to receive the revelations the Voyager would typically rush up the stairs, to find themselves blocked by the water game, forcing them to pause and read the sonnet. Only after doing this can the Voyager enter the Square of the Revelations, where everything they have sought will be answered.

Plan your visit to the Monumental Garden of Valsanzibio now