A couple of weeks ago, Venice celebrated the opening of a new museum dedicated to Giacomo Casanova – one of the city’s most notorious sons, whose exploits as a lover, adventurer and escape-artist are still world-famous over 200 years after his death in 1798. Featuring multi-media installations and stage-sets along with archival documents, period costumes, paintings and memorabilia, the museum offers a wealth of insights into Casanova’s intriguing life, loves and legacy.
However, for an even more authentic experience, why not also visit some of the many places around Venice that are directly linked to Casanova’s daily life in the city?
Calle Malpiero: Start your itinerary in Calle Malpiero (a few steps from the San Samuele vaporetto stop), where a plaque marks the street where Casanova was born into a family of actors in 1725. From 1740 onwards he also lived in nearby Palazzo Malipiero, owned by Alvise II Gasparo Malipiero – a senator who first introduced him into Venetian high society. After being caught in a compromising position with one of Alvise’s mistresses, Casanova was later expelled from Venice.
Chiesa di San Samuele: A stone’s throw from Calle Malpiero, you’ll find the Chiesa di San Samuele, which played a large part in Casanova’s life. His parents were married in the church, he was baptized here at 3 days old, and on Valentine’s Day 1740 – when he was just 14 – Casanova briefly joined the priesthood under the watchful eye of the parish priest, Father Tosello.
Caffe Florian: Tucked under the Procuratie Nuove in St Mark’s Square, Venice’s most iconic coffee shop first opened its doors on 29th December 1720. Over the years it has welcomed innumerable famous guests including Wagner, Goethe, Lord Byron and also Casanova – who was no doubt attracted by the fact that Florian’s was the only Venetian coffee house at the time to admit women.
Palazzo Ducale: On the night of 25th July 1755, Casanova was arrested for affront to religion and common decency, and imprisoned in the “Leads” of the Doge’s Palace. He remained here in what he described as “the worst of all cells”, suffering greatly from darkness, summer heat and “millions of fleas” until his infamous escape in 1756. Today, you can visit the two cells that Casanova occupied, along with other hidden corners such as the Torture Chamber and Hall of the Inquisitors, by booking a place on the “Secret Itineraries” Tour.
Cantina Do’ Spade: Finish your itinerary with a well-earned aperitivo or meal at Cantina Do’ Spade – one of the oldest taverns in Venice – mentioned in Casanova’s memoirs as a spot that he used to frequent in the company of courtesans. Hidden away in a shadowy alleyway near the Rialto Bridge, it was once at the very heart of Venice’s Red Light district – an area that Casanova knew only too well.