The large park around Villa Manin (in Codroipo, Udine), one of the largest villas in Veneto, is home to a yew that is at least two hundred years old (and measures approximately four meters around the truck).
The tree was probably planted while Napoleon Bonaparte was staying in the splendid, frescoed rooms of this magnificent 17th-century structure. The Manin family – a famous dynasty from Venice – had wanted their home to be majestic, prompting architects to draw inspiration from the Palace of Versailles and even Saint Peter’s in Rome. Indeed, the massive exedra that embraces the Villa’s “circular square” brings Bernini’s colonnade for the Vatican’s Basilica to mind.
We can imagine that in 1797, while the French commander prepared to sign the Treaty of Campo Formio and dreamed of a glorious Empire, that yew began its silent and peaceful life surrounded by Lebanon cedars and Japanese sago palms, honey locusts and Himalayan pines, Caucasian firs and giant bamboos, in one little spot in the eighteen hectares of these wonderful English gardens.
Without clamor nor wars, this humble yew earned its celebrity over time: today it is considered one of the “natural monuments of Friuli Venezia Giulia”.
Speaking of nature, Villa Manin is at the center of the Risorgive di Codroipo Reserve, a wonderful green oasis that is ideally equipped for trekking or cycling.
Inside the west “barchessa” of the villa you can enjoy a delicious meal at the “Nuovo Doge” restaurant (named in memory of Ludovico Manin, Venice’s last doge); a stone’s throw away, in San Martino, you can visit the Civic Museum of Vintage Carriages.
Art, nature, and more: Codroipo is also home to the Pittaro Wine and Vineyards Museum, open every day.