1. Calle Malipiero
Giacomo Casanova was born in 1725, in Calle della Commedia (now renamed Calle Malipiero), in one of the houses near Palazzo Grassi. A plaque shows the place.
2. Chiesa di San Samuele
Casanova was baptised in the Chiesa di San Samuele. This is also where the alleged natural father of Casanova, the patrician Michele Grimani, lived in the Teatro Grimani.
The church gives its name to the campo (city square), one of the few that look out onto the Grand Canal, next to Palazzo Grassi and Palazzo Malipiero. It was built in approximately 1000 AD, by the Boldù and Soranzo families. After being destroyed by two fires, it was rebuilt at the beginning of the twelfth century, at which time the Venetian-Byzantine bell tower was added. It underwent almost complete renovation in 1685. The church is dedicated to the prophet Samuele because, according to tradition, his relics lie there. According to Martinelli, one of the hands of St Valentine, patron saint of lovers, is also preserved in the church. Inside, on the high altar, there is a fourteenth-century crucifix, attributed to Paolo Veneziano.
3. Corte delle Muneghe
Casanova’s grandmother, Marzia, lived in Corte delle Muneghe (from monache, or nuns). It was here that Casanova lived from the age of eight. His father had died and his mother, an actress, travelled very much.
4. Palazzo Malipiero
Since 1740, under the protection of Senator Alvise II Malipiero, known as Gasparo, Casanova was a frequent visitor to Palazzo Malipiero. Here he was able to make a series of relationships with influential figures, as well as with a good number of ladies.
Palazzo Malipiero, formerly called “la Ca’ Granda de’ San Samuel” (the big house of St. Samuel) due to its considerable size, is a palazzo located in the sestiere (district) of San Marco overlooking the Grand Canal. There have been innumerable owners over the centuries, some of whom are unknown. Among them were the Soranzo family, who probably built it, the Cappello family, the Malipiero family, who enlarged it to its current structure, and the Barnabò family. This Byzantine era building is very complex, as each owner adapted the building to their needs and tastes, adding a great variety of architectural styles.
5. Campo San Maurizio
Campo San Maurizio is a “city square” in the sestiere of San Marco, located a few steps from the road from Campo Santo Stefano to Piazza San Marco. The campo is quite big and has important buildings in it. One of these is the Palazzo Bellavite, which, together with Palazzo Molin, closes the west side of the campo. Here lived the Venetian poet Giorgio Baffo and the writer Alessandro Manzoni.
Giorgio Alvise Baffo (Venice, 11 August 1694 – Venice, 30 July 1768) also called the sublime “poet of the mona” (female intimate part), was an Italian erotic poet who exercised a profound influence on the young Casanova, initiating him into the art of seduction. His poems, his satirical writings and his booklets were attacked for their eroticism and anticlericalism, but they were read everywhere. They dealt with issues of great current interest, especially licentious activities in Venice.
6. Il museo della musica
The music museum is in Campo San Maurizio. An essential stop that will enrich the Casanova discovery journey, helped by the sounds and music that accompanied his endeavours.
Casanova loved the elegant life of nobility as much as when living the real life of the people. He particularly liked to be in the Rialto area, and it is right here that he usually met his lovers for their first date.
Rialto is the oldest centre of Venice and part of the sestieri of San Marco and San Polo, known for its market and bridge bearing the same name. It was the heart of the city for centuries, and Rialto became an immense commercial centre, busy with boats loaded with products coming from and going to the inland areas. There were precious goods transported by the State-owned fleet of galleys and large ships, or by private individuals. The flow of craft products, fish and local farming produce was continuous. The bold architecture of the majestic Rialto Bridge crosses the Grand Canal; a 1591 project by the architect Antonio Da Ponte.
8. Il Sotoportego delle Do Spade
In particolare, qui vicino, presso il Sotoportego delle Do Spade, ritroviamo le tracce del nostro Casanova. Qui si trovano ancor oggi due antiche taverna aperte qui fin dal ‘500: l’omonima Do Spade e i Do Mori.
Ed era proprio qui che Casanova attendeva le sue donne.
9. Campo de le Beccarie
Casanova was a lover of good food, and we find traces of it at the Sotoportego delle Do Spade and the Sotoportego dei do Mori. Here, following Giacomo’s tracks we can still find two ancient taverns that date back to 1500: the well-named Do Spade and Do Mori. It was here that Casanova awaited his women.
In Campo de le Beccarie, near the fish market, there is the old trattoria, Poste Vecie, where Giacomo often lingered with his closest friends.
10. Il ponte delle tette
Sempre nella zona di rialto troviamo alcuni luoghi che se oggi potessero parlare ci racconterebbero molto della vita del tempo e del nostro Giacomo: il ponte delle tette.
11. E rio terà delle carampane
In the San Polo area, not far from the Rialto markets, there are some places that could tell us a lot about the life of those times and Giacomo’s “love” adventures. The Ponte delle Tette and Rio terà delle Carampane are famous for being places of legalized prostitution.
The name “carampane” derives from the name of Ca’ Rampani: a noble palace and then the area, assigned by the Republic of Venice, where prostitutes lived.
Legal and regulated by law since 1300, prostitution was an activity like any other in the Serenissima Republic. At first, prostitutes lived scattered throughout the city, but following their social and fiscal regulation in the fourteenth century, they began to reside mainly in the so-called Castelletto area, a series of houses owned by the Venier and Morosini families, near Rialto, close to where San Matteo church used to be. A century later, they also occupied the houses in Carampane. Prostitution in this area may be traced by the street and bridge names. The Ponte delle Tette (Bridge of Breasts), for example, recalls when prostitutes plied for trade by showing their naked breasts at the windows.
12. Caffè Florian
In both the better or worse sense, Casanova frequented the whole Piazza San Marco area. In historic places such as Caffè Florian, you can still sit at a table and sink into his lifestyle, imagining his conquests of love.
Caffè Florian is a historic café in the city of Venice, located under the porticos of the Procuratie Nuove in Piazza San Marco. It is the oldest Italian coffee shop and, together with the Café Procope in Paris, the oldest coffee shop in the world. It was inaugurated on 29 December 1720 by Floriano Francesconi and was called Alla Venezia Trionfante (Café of the Triumphant Venice). But Venetians immediately started saying, more simply, “Let’s go to Florian” (the name of the owner in the Venetian dialect). Since then, coffee has been served without interruption until the present day, becoming a favourite destination for Venetians, Italians and foreign visitors.
Giacomo Casanova courted the ladies, and the young Carlo Goldoni had just returned to the city. Many famous people frequented the Caffè Florian, such as Gasparo Gozzi, Giuseppe Parini, Silvio Pellico, Lord Byron, Ugo Foscolo, Charles Dickens, Goethe, Rousseau and Gabriele D’Annunzio.
13. Palazzo Ducale
Casanova spent more than a year in Palazzo Ducale’s dreaded prison, the “Piombi” (Leads, from the lead sheets covering the roof), until his famous and daring escape. The terrible Piombi were in the attic of Palazzo Ducale, from where it was virtually impossible to break out.
Palazzo Ducale, the former seat of the Venetian Doge and magistrates, was founded after 812 AD and is one of the symbols of the city of Venice as well as being a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic. The building stands in Piazza San Marco, in the sestiere of San Marco, between the Piazzetta of the same name and the Palazzo Ducale pier, next to the San Marco Basilica.
The style drew inspiration from Byzantine and Eastern architecture, in an astute aesthetic and physical paradox, in that the heavy bulk of the main section is supported on narrow inlaid colonnades. Inside the palazzo there is still a large art gallery, with famous works by Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto, Tiziano Vecellio, Francesco Bassano, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Palma the Younger and many others.
The famous Ridotto was a gambling house where Casanova spent his time with other Venetian nobles and noblewomen, practising the subtle art of gambling. It was right here: in Calle Vallaresso. Today that place overlaps with a part of the Hotel Monaco & Gran Canal.
Here Casanova, hiding behind a mysterious disguise, spent many hours in the company of Venetian patricians, waiting for one of his gallant encounters.
The ridotti and the casini were small houses or just rooms, where Venetians enjoyed gambling or the company of courtesans. One of the most important ridotti was certainly “Il Ridotto”. Here, nobles, or indeed anyone wearing a mask (baùta), could play.
At the Ridotto they played Bassetta and Pharaoh and all those games of chance at which the regular clients played furiously, squandering entire fortunes. There were, of course, cheats who, if discovered, were banned from the city after a public trial. Gambling was often accompanied by lewd conduct. At the Ridotto it was normal to trifle freely with courtesans, sometimes winning one as a prize.
15. Campo San Barnaba
Casanova literally lived in every corner of the city, and near Campo San Barnaba there are still traces of a place where he often spent time: the Casin dei Nobili.
In the final years of the Republic of Venice, there were 136 casini in the city; some public and some either privately owned by a nobleman or that could be rented. Some casini were real brothels, with elegant beds, mirrors, marble bathtubs, and dinner served in the room through a special wall-opening so that anyone outside couldn’t see who was occupying it and what was going on. But not all were places of perdition. Many had musical academies, poetry readings or dance parties. The lower class casini were far from the city centre, with turf on which ballgames could be played.
16. Palazzo Soranzo di San Polo
It was here, at Palazzo Soranzo di San Polo, that Casanova met his friend and protector, Zuane Bragadin. The meeting took place on 29 April 1746, during a wedding party.
17. L’abitazione del Bragadin
In Campo Santa Marina, in the sestiere of Castello, we find the home of Casanova’s friend, Bragadin. And it is in this palazzo that, on the night of 1 November 1756, Casanova found refuge after his incredible escape from the terrible Palazzo Ducale prison (the ‘Piombi’) and where he obtained money and documents from his patron to escape from Venice. Giacomo often gladly stayed in these rooms between one trip and another.
18. Barbaria de le Tole
In Barbaria de le Tole, 6673, in the sestiere of Castello, is the last Venetian house in which Casanova lived.
19. Palazzo Papafava
Palazzo Papafava is an interesting collection of fourteenth to eighteenth-century art. It is a gothic style building with a notably rich façade that looks over the Misericordia canal. The expressive power of the main part is concentrated in the central axis and is offset by elegant quadrilateral gothic windows, with protruding balconies and balustrades. Each four-light window is flanked by two pairs of single-lancet windows, one on each side. On the ground floor, there is the acute-pointed water-door, flanked by four single-lancet windows. Overall, the architectural structure is of great stylistic regularity.