Quattro Minuti con Casanova: The Ridotto

It’s been a while since I shared a Quattro Minuti video with you. I know, some of you have already binged watched all of them on YouTube. But I’m guessing some of you wait feverishly for me to dole out the next video, one drop at a time. Today is your lucky day, and this video is very close to my “quattro minuti” goal, as it clocks in at 3:53.

Most people know that Casanova was a gambler. In volume four of his memoirs he wrote, “What made me gamble was avarice. I loved to spend, and my heart bled when I could not do it with money won at cards.” In Venice, many small apartments or “little houses” known as a “casino” were used for cards and gambling. But the main gambling location was the ridotto at Marco Dandolo’s palace near the Teatro San Moise, a convenient location to win and lose one’s money during the opera’s intermission.

That palazzo is now the Hotel Monaco. If you ask nicely, and the rooms are not being used for a special event, you can actually walk through them. That’s what I did last summer when I filmed this episode.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd_fTcoJ1uI

Casanova mentions this ridotto a number of times in his memoirs. He gambled there with his mistress M.M. or whiled away the time while he couldn’t be with her. He also mentions seeing Count Bonafede, an impoverished nobleman whom he befriends. “Gambling is often a great palliative for a man in love,” advises Casanova.

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A Palazzo Cut Short

The Palazzo Venier dei Leoni looks like this:IMG_4009.JPG

But it was supposed to look like this:


This model can be seen at the Museo Correr. I had heard that the palace was never finished because the owners ran out of money, but the Peggy Guggenheim museum website has this to say:

“It is an unfinished palace. A model exists in the Museo Correr, Venice (1). Its magnificent classical façade would have matched that of Palazzo Corner, opposite, with the triple arch of the ground floor (which is the explanation of the ivy-covered pillars visible today) extended through both the piani nobili above. We do not know precisely why this Venier palace was left unfinished. Money may have run out, or some say that the powerful Corner family living opposite blocked the completion of a building that would have been grander than their own. Another explanation may rest with the unhappy fate of the next door Gothic palace which was demolished in the early 19th century: structural damage to this was blamed in part on the deep foundations of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni.”

I had always wondered what the palazzo was meant to look like, and when I stumbled upon the model in the Correr last summer, my curiosity was finally satisfied.

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From the James Bond film Moonraker. I love the silly bits at the end, like the pigeon doing a double-take, or the guy at the table deciding that a gondola driving through the Piazza San Marco is a good reason to drink wine today.

Moonraker Bondola Gondola scene

From The Italian Job: This one always bugged me because it shows the thieves underwater underneath a palazzo. Not possible. Venetian buildings are built upon layers of trees as pilings driven into the clay, then topped with stone. How else do you think they can support all the weight of an entire palazzo? Certainly not over water!

But enough of that rant. Go to roughly 5:35 to see the boat sideswipe a gondola and then cut a gondola in two, in front of the squero of San Trovaso. One of the most horrifying scenes in all of film history. (Okay, I exaggerate, but I do love gondolas!)

Italian Job boat chase scene


(Moonraker gondola image from http://dailynewsdig.com/top-ten-james-bond-cars-that-i-would-love-to-own/)


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Venice Streets Explained

Why is it that when you go to Rome or Florence, you stroll down a via or a strada, but in Venice you rarely see these words? Instead, you see things like calle, (which makes you think you’re in Spain or Mexico), ruga, ramo, and sotoportego (with various spellings). Dianne Hales unravels the mysteries in her article here:


Venice on Foot

As you may remember, I recently posted about Dianne’s book Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered. Though Dianne knows Florence and Rome best, she recently returned from a trip to Venice and wanted to share some of her new knowledge.

Casa Aretino

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Toast to the Birthday Boy!

Happy Birthday to our man Casanova!

Others are celebrating as well: https://drinkwinetodaybecause.wordpress.com/author/drinkwinetodaybecause/ (These posts aren’t archived, so if you don’t click on this today, you’ll miss it!)


To commemorate C’s birthday, here’s a Quattro Minuti con Casanova (okay, quattro e mezzo minuti) that tells the story of C’s birthplace. Was he born on the Calle Malipiero as the plaque on that street contends? Or around the corner at his grandmother’s house on Calle de le Muneghe? Watch this episode for some details, or read the fuller story in Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps.

Quattro Minuti con Casanova: Marzia Farussi’s House

We are just a few years away from Casanova’s 300th birthday, in 2025. What will you do to celebrate? I think you should start planning now, and make it a really great party.

Thanks to my friend Adriano for filming this episode, on a particularly hot day.

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Terrorists in Venice!?


Just got this news from an Italian friend: Authorities arrested four men who were planning to bomb the Rialto Bridge.


The Telegraph article

I emailed with a Venetian friend who works near Campo Manin, where one of the men was arrested. He said that the arrest went smoothly, as far as he could tell. Any of my readers who live in Venice–what have you heard or seen? What’s the news… (wait for it)…on the Rialto?

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Redefining Beauty: Luisa Bergallii Gozzi

Luisa Bergalli Gozzi2

Women’s History Month is almost over, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about a little-known remarkable Venetian woman. Labeled a shrew, when really she was the one supporting a crumbling noble family, Luisa Bergalli Gozzi gathered poems by other women poets into an anthology, saving their work for posterity. When women were seldom educated, women writers were seldom published, and women were seldom recognized for their minds, Luisa made sure that over 250 Venetian poets would be remembered.

Click here for the video link: Luisa Bergalli Gozzi

Besides editing the anthology, Luisa was also a translator and playwright. I read in one source that she introduced into plays everyday objects like brooms, aprons, and such. Most sources attribute this innovation to Carlo Goldoni, but Luisa was writing her plays a couple decades before him. Hmm. I’ll leave that to scholars who specialize in theater history to sort out, but certainly Luisa Bergalli Gozzi should be included in this conversation.

Here are some views of the Palazzo Gozzi in Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini.

Thanks to my friend Laura for filming on this day. Lots of children’s chatter in the background. What do you think: charming or annoying?

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