February 15, 2016

Ca' Rezzonico: Museum of 18th Century Venice

The name Casanova is synonymous with the city of Venice. The exploits of the notorious womanizer have become legend and I was eager to take a look inside one of the Grand Canal palazzos where Venetians like Casanova would have socialized. I got my opportunity at Ca' Rezzonico, the Museum of 18th Century Venice.

Grand Canal Entrance to Ca' Rezzonico

The museum occupies a palace designed by the great Baroque architect, Baldasarre Longhena. As I stepped into the first floor ballroom I could picture couples swirling across the dance floor, dressed in their Carnevale masks and finery. The original chandeliers still hang from the painted ceiling.

The Ballroom of Ca' Rezzonico

In other rooms, large frescoes from the family's villa depict the antics of the clown Punchinello (Pulcinello) while paintings by Pietro Longhi capture everyday life for upper class Venetians.

Punchinello in Love, G.D. Tiepolo

Punchinello and the Tumblers, G. D. Tiepolo

La Venditrice di Essenze, Pietro Longhi

Colloquio tra baute, Pietro Longhi

A tour of the palazzo’s lavish salons reveals some curious treasures among the antique furnishings and artwork: a sedan chair that would’ve been borne on poles by two carriers; an earlier version of the piano known as a spinet; and an Asian-inspired door that seems a little out of place in its ornate Rococo surroundings.

Antique Furnishings at Ca' Rezzonico

Sedan Chair

Spinet Room

Asian-Inspired Door, Tapestry Room

Modern-day visitors to Venice may take home a postcard or selfie of their favourite canal-side scenes. Grand Tour travellers would’ve sought out a canvas by the preeminent landscape artist of the day, Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto. Ca’ Rezzonico has two of his paintings on display. The scenes wouldn't look much different today.

View of the Rio dei Mendicante, Canaletto

The Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi to Rialto, Canaletto

The Museum of the 18th Century Venice is located in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood at the Ca’ Rezzonico vaporetto stop. For more information, visit the Ca’ Rezzonico web site.

Grand Canal View from Ca' Rezzonico

After our tour of the palazzo I spent a quiet moment in the garden and wondered if Casanova, who was born in a palazzo across the canal, had ever actually set foot in Ca’ Rezzonico.

The Gardens

I know Casanova spent time at Caffe Florian (where he was drawn by the women) and did time at the Doge’s prison (from which he escaped).

Caffe Florian

The Doge's Prison

Centuries after his death, the spirit of Casanova lives on in the city of Venice. For a re-enactment of the famous rogue's life, watch the 2005 film Casanova starring Heath Ledger.


  1. Lovely photos, as usual. I particularly like the Canalettos you posted with a view of the Grand Canal today.

    1. Thank, Denise. I find that the older I get, the more I like art. I'm really looking forward to all the art museums in London this summer.


All comments are moderated.