What is a cavana, you may ask? I know you’ve been pondering this one for a while. That word keeps popping up, and you have to keep asking yourself, what is it? It’s at the tip of your brain….
Well, your wait is over. The cavana shows up in one of Casanova’s adventures. It’s a place he visits and a thing he uses, both.
It’s a boat garage.
Towards the end of Casanova’s affair with M.M., generally believed to be Marina Morosini, the couple could no longer rely on the secretive gondoliers employed by their friend, the French Ambassador de Bernis, who had been posted elsewhere. In order to protect Marina’s reputation and identity, for she was a cloistered nun, Casanova had bought a little boat to pick her up at her convent on Murano. He moored the boat outside his casino, his little apartment near San Moise, and set an alarm to wake them from their, ahem, slumbers, well before sunrise.
However, early that morning, he heard a noise and looked out the window to see his boat being rowed away by thieves. He found a drunk boatman in a local tavern, bought the man’s boat, and was able to return Marina to her cloister before daylight.
When Casanova brought back a different boat to his cavana at the Rielo d’Arsenal, the owner thought he was nuts. Why would Casanova want this junk heap? But since he paid his fee, the owner quieted down.
(You can visit this site in Venice, as described in Walk #4 of Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps. It’s near Fondamente Nove where it meets the Arsenale.)
Another cavana you might want to visit is near Campo SS Apostoli, on Rio Tera’ SS Apostoli, called Il Sole sulla Vecia Cavana. It’s a restaurant, not a boat garage. They’re known for their fish and seafood. At the end of your meal, order a sgroppino, a whipped drink usually made with vodka and lemon gelato, a real delight. Venetians claim it’s a digestive, but I don’t care–I just think it’s yummy.