Discovering the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
CULTURAL VISIT - MIAMI
Discovering the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens: a collection of art works more than 2000 years old, and a fabulous park of 40.000 square meters rich in many varieties of flowers and beautiful rare orchids.
The Vizcaya is a splendid house in Neo-Renaissance style, situated on Key Biscayne, in the Coconut Grove district, in Miami. The name of the building comes from the Basque province with the same name.
The documentary evidences do not lack telling the constructor James Deering wished to perpetuate the myth of Vizcaya, a mythical and probably never existed explorer that reached the New World after numerous peregrinations in the Caribbean Sea. Deering erected the building in just three years, from 1914 to 1916, and chose Cristoforo Columbo's boats as symbol of the house. On the main entrance of the property, there is a statue portraying the explorer Bel Vizcaya, welcoming visitors.
The history of the most important building in Coconut Grove
The beautiful Neo-renaissance house of Coconut Grove was built by the American entrepreneur James Deering, as his personal summer residence. It was realized in single three years, although the necessary works to complete the fantastic garden around the building went on till the beginning of the 20s.
The property extends on a territory of approximately eight hectares, including also the above-mentioned garden, dependence and the service buildings. Immediately after the mid-10s, the works were destroyed by the First World War that remarkably delayed its conclusion, especially because of the difficulties in finding and importing the necessary materials from the European continent.
Villa Vizcaya can be considered an expression of the American Renaissance: the style Deering chose refers to the Italian buildings in Baroque style and to those typical ones of the Veneto Renaissance.
Villa Vizcaya evidences references to the famous celebre Villa Rezzonico di Bassano del Grappa (realized in the 1600's) and to the unmistakable style of the noble Venetian buildings of the same period. The planning and the disposition of several spaces were committed to the American architect Paul Chalfin, supported by Phineas Paist, F. Burrall Hoffman and Diego Suarez (the latter made the project and the consequent realization of the gardens).
The building gains its fascination from the perfect re-adaptation of the European architectural tradition in the evocative subtropical landscape of southern Florida. For the realization of the house they used precious marbles from Italy and the local stone, too. Even the wide arboreal essences that embellish the garden are mixed; there are numerous exotic trees from the Mediterranean basin.
The foundation of the Museo di Villa Vizcaya dates back to 1953, when the building was opened to the public and the Miami-Dade County Art Museum got its current name. In 1994, the building was elected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This recognition convinced the stewards to change the name of the Museum into Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, much more representative and able to leave no doubts about the identity of the building.
The permanent exhibition shows the majority of the original collections of the house. Inside of the house-museum there are approximately seventy spaces completely decorated, and an infinity of objects and pieces of furniture coming from the antique markets of Europe, dating back from a period between the XV and the beginnings of the century XIX.
The park around the house extends on approximately 40 thousand square metres of space, decorated by a great number of various vegetables species, including many tropical and European essences.
The Columbian landscape expert Diego Suarez was entrusted with the realization of the garden, able to perfectly mix the park, the channels and the waters of the sea. The central space in front of the building is dominated by organized low hedges according to a peculiar geometrical disposition.
Beyond this area, there are the evocative Secret Garden, the intimate Theatre Garden and an abundance of architectural structures, ancient fountains and sculptures.
In order to dedicate to Villa Vizcaya the necessary time for a complete visit, it takes approximately three hours. The guided tour - managed by volunteers and not expert guides - takes just 45 minutes, so we suggest you to buy a paper-based guide. The full-price ticket costs 18 dollars.
Valery Affleck - New York
Villa Vizcaya is a house-museum rich in history and embellished by a splendid garden. When I went there, I observed some of the damages caused by hurricane Irma, which have removed nothing to the beauty of the park, anyway. The building Deering is an historical house inspired to the Italian and European architecture rich in delicious corners and evocative panoramas, to discover at the sunset, if possible. The restaurant situated inside of the estate is excellent and the staff is very available and kind.
Francis Henderson - Chicago
Ancient residence completely realized in Neo-Renaissance style, with a little harbour for small boats. From 1994, it became a house-museum exposing hundreds of old pieces of furniture from the past centuries (especially from the XIX century). The cost of the entrance ticket, if compared to how much it offers and to its garden, is absolutely justified. From the park, you can see nearly all the skyline of Miami.
Jessica Amber - Miami
Villa Vizcaya is one of the most beautiful and evocative buildings of the city. It rises in the Coconut Grove district and is embellished by an irresistible Neo-Renaissance style that remembers the Venice and Florence architectures of the 1600's and the 1700's. The garden is superb and a part of the park is dedicated to the orchids. Also the Barchessa, the great service building situated a few metres from the main structure, is magnificent and offers the possibility to admire tens of multicoloured iguanas.
Francesco Accorsi - Milan
Villa Vizcaya is a huge mix of Italian architectonic beauties (especially Venetian beauties), in an exotic context. The visit is perfect for everybody staying in Miami. It takes a few hours to visit it and, after the walk around the rooms and the collections of the museum, it is necessary to dedicate yourself to the huge park, and to discover the garden and the hundreds of local and imported essences. I had the fortune to visit the complex during the Christmas period: in that occasion, the Villa shone of lights and decorations and was even more evocative. The area is very easy to be reached by public transport.
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