AT HOME IN 18TH CENTURY VENICE. A VISIT TO CA’ REZZONICO
AT HOME IN 18TH CENTURY VENICE – Located on the right bank of the Grand Canal, right opposite to Palazzo Grassi, Palazzo Rezzonico is one of the greatest private dwellings in Venice.
Built between the 17th and the 18th century, designed by two famous architects, Longhena and Massari, its spectacular rooms epitomize the final glories of Venice’s great noble families.
The unique nature of the city, with its double street system, walkaways and canals, had a relevant impact on palace architecture: we can say that the traditional Venetian home is bipolar, with an entrance on the street, and with a more monumental doorway along the canal.
The members of the family moved around by gondola or other boats rather than on foot. The main façade of the house was the one facing the water rather than the one along the ‘calle’.
We enter ca’ Rezzonico from the monumental land entrance, along the picturesque and tranquil San Barnaba Canal.
We are in the district of Dorsoduro, not far from the Accademia Bridge and Ca’ Foscari University, in one of the most desirable neighborhoods – or sestieri – of Venice.
The ground floor boasts tall ceilings and monumental columns. As most ground floors in Venice, it may flood during the rainy season in November.
That’s one of the reasons why this part of the house was normally not inhabited, but rather used to store boats, laundry, wine and tools.
We walk out on the waterfront for a minute to enjoy the Grand Canal view, so many times immortalized by the painters.
We climb the grand ceremonial staircase, designed by Giorgio Massari in the mid-18th century, and reach the spectacular ballroom, the widest in Venice, that still preserves giant chandeliers, trompe l’oeil architectures and landscapes all around, and is topped by a triumphant frescoed ceiling, representing the four corners of the world.
During our Ca’ Rezzonico & 18th century Venice the guide will sketch the vicissitudes of the construction, started by Baldassarre Longhena, by completed much later by Giorgio Massari, and will narrate about the not so long-lasting glories of the Rezzonico family.
Some words will be spent about the different proprietors of the house.
We’ll visit a row masterly decorated rooms, some boasting luminous ceilings by Giambattista Tiepolo, and a rich collection of wooden furnishings, stuccoes, mirrors, pastel paintings, miniatures and ceramics that represent the best of Rococo style in Venice.
Special attention will be given to Venetian porcelain, to the spectacular glass chandeliers and to the collection of ebony and boxwood statues by Andrea Brustolon,
In the ‘portego’, or central hall of the second noble floor we admire two views of Venice by Canaletto, the only important works by the Venetian vedutist painter to be seen in town.
We enjoy the intimate ambiance of the Room of the Alcove, the delightful ‘fake’ Chinese style of the green-lacquered drawing room and a curious little painting showing with people skating in a frozen Venetian Lagoon landscape.
The witty interiors by Pietro Longhi and Gianantonio Guardi, so rich in details, will be the occasion to revive the lifestyle and social habits of 18th century Venice: the meaning of masks, the novelties imported from America, the pastimes, and more.
A separate area is dedicated to the reconstruction of Villa Tiepolo, the country residence of Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, with enchanting frescoes by Giandomenico himself.
Nostalgic, romantic, ironical at the same time, the recently restored frescoes are one of gems of the collection.
Our AT HOME IN 18TH CENTURY VENICE continues on the top floor, once the servants’ apartments, the attraction is a completely reconstructed 18th century chemist’s shop, with all the original alembics and vials.
Your guide will tell about the teriaca, the most celebrated medicine produced in Venice.
The most illustrious members of the family were the State Procurator Ludovico Rezzonico
and Carlo Rezzonico, who became Pope in 1758 with the name of Clemens XIII, one out of a mere five Venetian Popes.
Since when the last Rezzonico died in 1810 the Palazzo underwent several modifications and unfortunately its original furnishings got almost totally dispersed.
The great English poet Robert Browning lived (and died) in this house. American composer Cole Porter rented it for a month in 1920.
In 1935, due to tax disputes the extravagant Count Lionello von Hierschel de Minerbi, last private owner, had to give it away to the City Council, that decided to transfer here 18th century art collections from other prominent Venetian palaces.
Ca’ Rezzonico & 18th century Venice is an art and history tour away from the crowds and the most beaten ‘must-sees’.
Cost of this tour
This tour lasts three hours and costs 280 euros up to six people (not per person), only private parties.
For larger parties send us an email!
Museum fees per person: Ca’ Rezzonico 10 euros (full rate) – 7.50 euros (reduced rate)
Dress Code and advice
No dress code required
Better if you don’t bring backpacks or large hand bags