THE MUSEUM

OPENING TIMES

EVERY DAY FROM 10:00 AM TO 8:00 PM
TICKET OFFICE CLOSES AT 7:15 PM

Casanova is imagined as a mix of mythology and historical reality and is one of Italy’s and Venice’s most world-famous names. He is the guardian of a timeless myth, living on in lanes and squares as well as in the palazzi and eighteenth-century courts across much of Europe. Although he left a vast collection of literary works, he is mostly remembered as an adventurer and lover; a disrespectful son of the Serenissima. But Casanova ‘the man’ was much more than this.

When moving through the rooms of Palazzo Papafava you will enjoy a first-hand experience of the atmosphere, sounds, settings and costumes that bore witness to the events relating to Casanova the man, and the time in which he lived.
The exhibition will go beyond the myth of Casanova, telling the real story behind the bright lights of eighteenth-century Venice and showing the fragility, full of solitude and insecurity, that makes Casanova an eclectic and complex character even today. Looking at the literature in which he is the central character, in his hand-written documents, and at objects and original clothes of the period, the most significant moments of Giacomo’s life are deduced. The exhibition mixes virtual experiences and immersive surroundings, alternating with interactive exhibits. There are also moments of both shared views and private enjoyment, all working together to ensure the visitor a varied, exciting and engaging experience. This is an experience that will show visitors young Casanova and his family of actors, his travels for study and pleasure, and his adventures throughout Europe. They will see the poet and sophisticated writer, the diplomat and astute secret agent. They will also see the women, love and fashion of the eighteenth century, and the myth of the cinema that consecrated his deeds. This story will go to the heart of the life of Casanova the man, beyond the myth.

BIRTH, FAMILY, YOUTH

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was born in Venice on 2nd April 1725. He was the first of six brothers and sisters, the son of Gaetano Casanova from Parma, an actor and dancer with distant Spanish origins, while his mother, Zanetta Farussi, known as “La Buranella”, was a successful Venetian actress. Casanova was a writer, adventurer and philosopher, but also a lawyer, historian, poet, cleric, soldier, secret agent and, not his least achievement, a great lover and seducer.
From early childhood, the boundaries of his life grew ever wider, in a dizzying succession of adventures and misadventures in which he knew, in the alternating fortunes of his life, how to adapt himself to live in both luxury and destitution, with thieves, cheats and prostitutes, but also with aristocrats and men of court and culture. Bold and degenerate, hungry for culture, beauty and all that life could offer, Casanova looked for pleasure, joyfully and realistically, without sentimental complications. Gifted with rare intelligence, Giacomo lived his youth greedily, reading and assimilating miraculously all that came to hand. He began his love and travel experiences at a tender age, learning how to live in society as well as the encounters and the tricks of the “war of the sexes”, both characteristics of the noblest life of that period, and of which he would soon be a master.

Casanova Museum & Experience - La nascita

BIRTH, FAMILY, YOUTH

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was born in Venice on 2nd April 1725. He was the first of six brothers and sisters, the son of Gaetano Casanova from Parma, an actor and dancer with distant Spanish origins, while his mother, Zanetta Farussi, known as “La Buranella”, was a successful Venetian actress. Casanova was a writer, adventurer and philosopher, but also a lawyer, historian, poet, cleric, soldier, secret agent and, not his least achievement, a great lover and seducer.
From early childhood, the boundaries of his life grew ever wider, in a dizzying succession of adventures and misadventures in which he knew, in the alternating fortunes of his life, how to adapt himself to live in both luxury and destitution, with thieves, cheats and prostitutes, but also with aristocrats and men of court and culture. Bold and degenerate, hungry for culture, beauty and all that life could offer, Casanova looked for pleasure, joyfully and realistically, without sentimental complications. Gifted with rare intelligence, Giacomo lived his youth greedily, reading and assimilating miraculously all that came to hand. He began his love and travel experiences at a tender age, learning how to live in society as well as the encounters and the tricks of the “war of the sexes”, both characteristics of the noblest life of that period, and of which he would soon be a master.

TRAVELS, SOCIETY, EUROPE

Casanova is one of the most famous travellers to cross the borders and traverse the history of mid-eighteenth-century Europe. Thanks to his autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life), we can reconstruct his travels, his adventures and above all his innumerable encounters in countless journeys. With interconnecting events occurring in rapid succession during his continuous movement from city to city throughout the Old Continent, Giacomo has left us not only the history and customs of Europe at the end of the eighteenth century but also its most intimate secrets.
The fame of this multilingual and adventurous scholar preceded him regularly, and the curiosity aroused as a result gave him access to the most exclusive circles of the capitals of the entire Western world, developing relationships in the noblest cultural salons and courts of the time. Casanova was a brilliant conversationalist with an extraordinary encyclopaedic culture, having accumulated endless travel experiences. Moving between courts and salons, Giacomo was an attentive witness and central character in an epoch-making moment of Western culture and civilization. He also had an incomparable ability to live his time and help us to understand it, leaving us faithful portraits of the many illustrious personages he met on his travels. However, despite frequent and long journeys, Casanova always remained a Venetian, deeply in love with his city.

Casanova Museum & Experience - I viaggi

TRAVELS, SOCIETY, EUROPE

Casanova is one of the most famous travellers to cross the borders and traverse the history of mid-eighteenth-century Europe. Thanks to his autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life), we can reconstruct his travels, his adventures and above all his innumerable encounters in countless journeys. With interconnecting events occurring in rapid succession during his continuous movement from city to city throughout the Old Continent, Giacomo has left us not only the history and customs of Europe at the end of the eighteenth century but also its most intimate secrets.
The fame of this multilingual and adventurous scholar preceded him regularly, and the curiosity aroused as a result gave him access to the most exclusive circles of the capitals of the entire Western world, developing relationships in the noblest cultural salons and courts of the time. Casanova was a brilliant conversationalist with an extraordinary encyclopaedic culture, having accumulated endless travel experiences. Moving between courts and salons, Giacomo was an attentive witness and central character in an epoch-making moment of Western culture and civilization. He also had an incomparable ability to live his time and help us to understand it, leaving us faithful portraits of the many illustrious personages he met on his travels. However, despite frequent and long journeys, Casanova always remained a Venetian, deeply in love with his city.

HIS RETURN TO VENICE, PRISON, ESCAPE

After having returned to Venice for only two years, on 25 July 1755 Casanova was arrested and locked up in the Piombi, the feared Venetian prison.

The Serenissima prison, the Piombi or “Leads”, from the lead sheets covering the roof, was an impenetrable place and is still inaccessible to the public today. It was specifically in these narrow cells, seen here for the first time in unique and original pictures, that Casanova was imprisoned for more than a year.

As was customary at the time, neither the indictment nor the length of the sentence was notified to the condemned prisoner. Much has subsequently been discussed about the real reasons for his arrest. What is certain is that Casanova’s behaviour was constantly watched by the state inquisitors and many riferte (reports) remain, compiled by paid informers. These meticulously described his behaviour, especially when considered socially undesirable. It was eventually supposed that he had been accused of being a libertine with married women, contempt of religion, tricking some patricians and in general of dangerous behaviour, threatening the good name and stability of the aristocratic regime.
As it happened, although Casanova led a rather disorderly life, it wasn’t any worse than that led by many scions of illustrious families. In the same way, he played, drank, cheated and had quite personal ideas about religion and politics but, unlike others, he was much more vocal with his ideas.

Casanova Museum & Experience - La fuga

HIS RETURN TO VENICE, PRISON, ESCAPE

After having returned to Venice for only two years, on 25 July 1755 Casanova was arrested and locked up in the Piombi, the feared Venetian prison.

The Serenissima prison, the Piombi or “Leads”, from the lead sheets covering the roof, was an impenetrable place and is still inaccessible to the public today. It was specifically in these narrow cells, seen here for the first time in unique and original pictures, that Casanova was imprisoned for more than a year.

As was customary at the time, neither the indictment nor the length of the sentence was notified to the condemned prisoner. Much has subsequently been discussed about the real reasons for his arrest. What is certain is that Casanova’s behaviour was constantly watched by the state inquisitors and many riferte (reports) remain, compiled by paid informers. These meticulously described his behaviour, especially when considered socially undesirable. It was eventually supposed that he had been accused of being a libertine with married women, contempt of religion, tricking some patricians and in general of dangerous behaviour, threatening the good name and stability of the aristocratic regime.
As it happened, although Casanova led a rather disorderly life, it wasn’t any worse than that led by many scions of illustrious families. In the same way, he played, drank, cheated and had quite personal ideas about religion and politics but, unlike others, he was much more vocal with his ideas.

GAMBLING IN SOCIETY

European courts were well-regulated and orderly places, with precise etiquette to obey in every place and situation.
“Ludus” (playing or gaming), was a real language that went beyond national borders. Playing cards and dice were a sort of common language, recognised in every part of this noble world. It was not only the language of sounds, but also the much more complex language of codes, both in games and in love, with attitudes, roles and rites to respect.
In the eighteenth century, the century of “conversation”, gaming completed the customs and ceremonials of appearing in public. “Game language”, therefore, was widespread and standardised, and it was essential for those who frequented lounges and courts to be familiar with playing cards, board games, dice and the secrets of cheats. It was essential in order to fit into society and be satisfyingly noticed.

Casanova Museum & Experience - Il gioco

GAMBLING IN SOCIETY

European courts were well-regulated and orderly places, with precise etiquette to obey in every place and situation.
“Ludus” (playing or gaming), was a real language that went beyond national borders. Playing cards and dice were a sort of common language, recognised in every part of this noble world. It was not only the language of sounds, but also the much more complex language of codes, both in games and in love, with attitudes, roles and rites to respect.
In the eighteenth century, the century of “conversation”, gaming completed the customs and ceremonials of appearing in public. “Game language”, therefore, was widespread and standardised, and it was essential for those who frequented lounges and courts to be familiar with playing cards, board games, dice and the secrets of cheats. It was essential in order to fit into society and be satisfyingly noticed.

POET AND WRITER

Casanova, in addition to being a libertine and seducer, was also a writer, refined and up to date, and “modern” in outlook. He had no fear of revealing situations, inclinations, activities, plots and, above all, confessions that were absolutely unreportable at the time, and remained so for more than a century. Literature was Casanova’s real ambition and he was the author of an impressive number of books and pamphlets. If he wrote a great deal, and about such varied subjects, he did so also because he wished to link his name not only to his fame as an adventurer, but also to the quality of his culture and wit.

His output of “novels and poetry” was often of an occasional nature, which is to say his writings were frequently quickly created in order to obtain some benefit. Other works, however, were instead ironical treatises, satirical writings that should have made the author a real literary success, but unfortunately, this was not to be.
Wholly different is the literature that Casanova dedicated to himself. An excellent conversationalist, hardened seducer, man of letters, alchemist, military officer, historian, and spy, but also an escapee and exile. Many were to define Casanova’s life as one lived like a novel, and he himself turned it into one: in 1789, with his monumental Mémoires de J. Casanova de Seingalt, écrits par lui-même.
With a kaleidoscopic personality, legendary for his indomitable inclination for libertinism, in his Memoirs, Casanova provides a light-hearted account of a unique, almost fantastic historical period, one of excesses and vices: a world made immortal on paper, but one that the French Revolution would shortly sweep away.

Casanova Museum & Experience - Scrittore

POET AND WRITER

Casanova, in addition to being a libertine and seducer, was also a writer, refined and up to date, and “modern” in outlook. He had no fear of revealing situations, inclinations, activities, plots and, above all, confessions that were absolutely unreportable at the time, and remained so for more than a century. Literature was Casanova’s real ambition and he was the author of an impressive number of books and pamphlets. If he wrote a great deal, and about such varied subjects, he did so also because he wished to link his name not only to his fame as an adventurer, but also to the quality of his culture and wit.

His output of “novels and poetry” was often of an occasional nature, which is to say his writings were frequently quickly created in order to obtain some benefit. Other works, however, were instead ironical treatises, satirical writings that should have made the author a real literary success, but unfortunately, this was not to be.
Wholly different is the literature that Casanova dedicated to himself. An excellent conversationalist, hardened seducer, man of letters, alchemist, military officer, historian, and spy, but also an escapee and exile. Many were to define Casanova’s life as one lived like a novel, and he himself turned it into one: in 1789, with his monumental Mémoires de J. Casanova de Seingalt, écrits par lui-même.
With a kaleidoscopic personality, legendary for his indomitable inclination for libertinism, in his Memoirs, Casanova provides a light-hearted account of a unique, almost fantastic historical period, one of excesses and vices: a world made immortal on paper, but one that the French Revolution would shortly sweep away.

CINEMA

It is true that Casanova was a great writer, lover and adventurer. There is also no doubt that he lived his life as though it were a work of art. Over the centuries, many arts have made him the central character; the theatre, paintings and the cinema.

Memories, loves, misunderstandings, mistaken identities, promises of marriage, political persecution, light comical jests and drama. These multiple nuances of his personality, and the thousand spicy anecdotes of an adventurous life, make Casanova a favourite subject in the world of cinema and it is precisely with cinema that the myth of Casanova became widely known. Few other historical figures have so often appeared on the big screen in so many different events and historical circumstances – some real and others fictitious. The filmography that focuses on the story of the Venetian seducer is remarkable. More than forty films have been made, some of which have made cinema history. Each film shows a different perception of Casanova’s life, from his youthful experiences to later life, also dwelling on his love affairs and much more, making our Venetian remain alive and contemporary.

Among the many films which focused on Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) we mention: Il Casanova di Federico Fellini; Il giovane Casanova [The Young Casanova]; Le retour de Casanova [The Return of Casanova]; Il veneziano, vita e amori di Giacomo Casanova [Casanova]; Infanzia, vocazione e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova, veneziano [Giacomo Casanova: Childhood and Adolescence]; Le avventure di Giacomo Casanova [The Sins of Casanova]; and among the most recent, Casanova (2005) with Heath Ledger.

Casanova Museum & Experience - Cinema

CINEMA

It is true that Casanova was a great writer, lover and adventurer. There is also no doubt that he lived his life as though it were a work of art. Over the centuries, many arts have made him the central character; the theatre, paintings and the cinema.

Memories, loves, misunderstandings, mistaken identities, promises of marriage, political persecution, light comical jests and drama. These multiple nuances of his personality, and the thousand spicy anecdotes of an adventurous life, make Casanova a favourite subject in the world of cinema and it is precisely with cinema that the myth of Casanova became widely known. Few other historical figures have so often appeared on the big screen in so many different events and historical circumstances – some real and others fictitious. The filmography that focuses on the story of the Venetian seducer is remarkable. More than forty films have been made, some of which have made cinema history. Each film shows a different perception of Casanova’s life, from his youthful experiences to later life, also dwelling on his love affairs and much more, making our Venetian remain alive and contemporary.

Among the many films which focused on Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) we mention: Il Casanova di Federico Fellini; Il giovane Casanova [The Young Casanova]; Le retour de Casanova [The Return of Casanova]; Il veneziano, vita e amori di Giacomo Casanova [Casanova]; Infanzia, vocazione e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova, veneziano [Giacomo Casanova: Childhood and Adolescence]; Le avventure di Giacomo Casanova [The Sins of Casanova]; and among the most recent, Casanova (2005) with Heath Ledger.

EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FASHION: THE BEDROOM

The dynamics of fashion are everywhere. Fashion is an expression of the spirit of the time, but its social meaning differs greatly and depends very much on the style of society in which it is seen. Casanova’s century, the 1700s, was full of change, evolutions and even upheavals of society. At the beginning of the century, the prevailing Baroque style was Louis XIV, the Sun King, who made monarchic absolutism a religion in its own right. Then frivolous Rococo came into style until towards the end of the century, just before the French Revolution, when classicism returned, searching for simpler and more rigorous forms. Eighteenth-century fashion in Venice was also among the most sophisticated and refined in Europe. It was obligatory for the nobility of a large and rich city to be seen living the life of society and court, even if only in the lanes and squares. In this way fashion itself, with its fabrics, lace and colours, gave full expression to the social evolution it both watched and from which it drew inspiration. It was the living expression of historical, political, cultural and economic events.

Casanova Museum & Experience - La moda

EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FASHION: THE BEDROOM

The dynamics of fashion are everywhere. Fashion is an expression of the spirit of the time, but its social meaning differs greatly and depends very much on the style of society in which it is seen. Casanova’s century, the 1700s, was full of change, evolutions and even upheavals of society. At the beginning of the century, the prevailing Baroque style was Louis XIV, the Sun King, who made monarchic absolutism a religion in its own right. Then frivolous Rococo came into style until towards the end of the century, just before the French Revolution, when classicism returned, searching for simpler and more rigorous forms. Eighteenth-century fashion in Venice was also among the most sophisticated and refined in Europe. It was obligatory for the nobility of a large and rich city to be seen living the life of society and court, even if only in the lanes and squares. In this way fashion itself, with its fabrics, lace and colours, gave full expression to the social evolution it both watched and from which it drew inspiration. It was the living expression of historical, political, cultural and economic events.