The Brenta is an Italian river that runs from Trentino to the Adriatic Sea just south of the Venetian lagoon in the Veneto region.
During Roman era, it was called Medoacus (Ancient Greek: Mediochos, Μηδειοχος) and near Padua it divided in two branches, Medoacus Maior (Great Medoacus) and Medoacus Minor (Small Medoacus); the river changed its course in early Middle Ages, and its bed through Padua was occupied by Bacchiglione.
It is 174 km (108 mi) long and was first channelled in the 16th century when a long canal was built from the village of Stra to the Adriatic Sea, bypassing Venetian lagoon; a secondary channel, often named as Riviera del Brenta, was left to connect directly Venice and Padua (which was a kind of second capital of Venice Republic). It runs through Stra, Fiesso d'Artico, Dolo, Mira, Oriago and Malcontenta to Fusina (which is part of the comune of Venice), in the North-east of Italy.
Starting in the 16th century, many large villas were built along the shores of the Riviera del Brenta. Three of these villas are accessible to the public: the massive baroque Villa Pisani in Stra, Villa Widmann-Foscari in Mira, and the Palladian building of Villa Foscari, also called "La Malcontenta". Villa Ferretti-Angeli in Dolo is also on the Riviera. Northwest of Padua, near the village of Piazzola sul Brenta, not far from the river, Villa Contarini is accesible. The Venetian aristocracy used to cruise along the canal on a type of typical boat known as Burchiello. While cargo was carried on traditional barges known as Burci.
In Bassano del Grappa, the river is crossed by the Ponte Vecchio (Italian, meaning Old bridge), or Ponte degli Alpini (Alpini's bridge), a covered bridge designed by Palladio in 1569. The bridge is pontoon-style and is built completely of wood