High on the slopes of Monte Berico, just outside Vicenza, stands the 17th century Villa Valmanara ai Nani. The first thing you will notice when you approach the villa is the stone dwarves (nani) lined up on the walls outside. And of course there is a legend associated with them…
The villa is still owned by the Valmanara family and is open to the public on certain days. Unfortunately it was closed when I was there but the gardens and the frescoed interior are said to be well worth a visit.
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The legend is that a daughter of the house was affected by dwarfism and, so that she would not feel different, the family only employed dwarves as servants. But one day a handsome prince climbed over the wall and, seeing how different he was from herself, the young girl became aware of her condition for the first time. In her despair she threw herself off the wall and the dwarves turned to stone in grief. They remain there to this day, guarding the soul of their mistress.
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