The Diane’s Pavilion or ‘Diane’s Doorway’ was the main entrance by water to the Barbarigo estate in the 17th and 18th century and was one of the first work of the Bernini’s projects to have been started, around 1662. Probably, this magnificent and impressive doorway represents one of the most important area of the overall monumental complex, in fact, it did not only mean that the entrance to the estate of the Babrbarigo, underlining the might of the place you were entering in, but it represented, as it does still today, the beginning of the salvation’s itinerary, wanted by the Saint Gregorio Barbarigo. Just in front of the doorway, on its outside, on two solid pillars, lean the shields of the Babrbarigo, held up by two statues representing angels in a peaceful attitude as boys with a short tunic. The Diana’s Pavilion, besides being a majestic structure, is decorated with mascarons, low reliefs and 13 statues engraved in the Istria’s stone by the sculptor Henry Merengo. Among these statues, probably, the most important are the six on the entrance facade and the four on the inside parapet. The six sculptures on the entrance front from top to bottom are:
– the statue of Diana: this sculpture represent Diane, the Goddess of the hunting, of the prodigies and of the mutations, portrayed in a bellicose attitude and admonishing to not violate the border of the park; this statue is the guardian of the garden and it is deliberately positioned in the highest part of the doorway because, in last analysis, it symbolizes God that is above everybody;
– the bearded mascaron: this marvelous sculpture on the key vault of the main entrance, represents the head of a virile man, strong and gruff, in the act of screaming, he could represent Sileno, the master of wisdom and clairvoyant, who welcomes the visitors to Valsanzibio, or, more probably, he represents the Barbarighi generations from whom thick bears the naissance takes the name; not by chance, this figure was placed just below the statue of Diane, but on top of all the other sculptures to underline that the Barbarighi were second only to God!
– the statue of Ateone and Endimione: these sculptures, respectively on the left and on the right of the main doorway, represent the two mortal figures that in mythology symbolizes the people that are never satisfied and, wish too much from life, in the end they find themselves with empty pockets; these figures allegorically represent the venetian nobles and are put deliberately under the bearded mascaron, under the Barbarighi. In fact, the venetian nobles are reproached by the Barbarighi to have been unsatisfied with the first success obtained against the giant of the Turks Empire and to have wanted too much against them, bringing, inevitably, ruin and decadence to the Serenissima Republic (in 1660, Venice, after a period of supremacy and predominance on the Mediterranean sea, now had began a phase of decline and was losing all the trading business on the Mediterranean sea in favor of the Turks!);
– the statues of the peasants: these sculptures, one holds a barrel of wine and the second one a jug of water, portray two figures of peasants dressed with simplicity and of a bare and almost deformed aspect. The peasants’ figures are intentionally placed at the base of the doorway under the statues of Ateone and Endimione, under what allegorically corresponded to the nobility, in fact, these figures embody the normal people, the base of the aristocracy’s power;
The four statues on the inside parapet from left to right symbolize:
– the statue of Mercury: the messenger on earth of the Gods. He signifies that in Vaslanzibio it is possible to have a direct contact with God;
– the statue of Hercules: the demi God who dealt with the 12 challenges and symbolizes the effort that you have to face in order to gain salvation;
– the statue of Jupiter: the ‘King’ of the Gods who regulates the weather conditions, protecting the garden and distributing the right quantity of rain and sun;
– the statue of Apollo: the god of sun, that personifies the Barbarigo’s naissance. In fact, as the Sun, being alone in the sky, is the brighter and shiner star, so the Barbarigo in Valsanzibio, having taken their estate away from the Brenta’s riviera (location of most of the residences of the other Venetian Nobel families), they do not have any rivals and they are the most respected and admired family.