Quattro Minuti con Casanova: The Casino

Americans think of a casino as a place to go gambling. During Casanova’s 18th century, a casino was a small casa, the sort of pleasure apartment that they brought their friends or lover to. Wealthy nobles often had casini where they could enjoy a more intimate evening away from the drafty palazzo and formal manners.

Casanova was no nobleman, but he did rent a casino for a very special guest–M.M., a nun who he had an affair with. He wanted to impress her, so he rented the casino of Lord Holderness, the English resident. His description of the rooms is quite delicious!

This summer, I visited the building that used to house C’s casino. It’s now the Hotel Lisbon, off the Campo Barozzi near Campo San Moise and the Gritti Palace Hotel. The manager was kind enough to film this episode of Quattro Minuti con Casanova. I especially like that the gondoliers keep gliding by outside the window.

Click on this link: Casanova’s casino

If you want the full description of the casino, please read it all in my book, Seductive Venice, page 121. Or of course you can read Casanova’s memoirs, History of my Life, which is where I got it!

In this video, I tell about C’s first meeting with his lover M.M., who he met across town at Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo. I posted this video a while ago, but in case you want to see the two of them together to get the full story, here it is: Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo


About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
This entry was posted in Casanova and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Quattro Minuti con Casanova: The Casino

  1. John Peter Maher says:

    Some Italian words were borrowed by the French, then re-patriated to Italy, where they now co-exist with the true Italian term. The gambling casino is one of the Frenchified words; it is accented on the ultima (last syllable) and is invariable, that is they have the same form in plural as in singular, and the letter O is marked with a diacritic. For example “i migliori casinò — the best “casinos”. But the “little house” (sugar shack) is accented on the letter I, and it pluralizes: il singular casino/ plural i casini: In 1958 the casini” — houses of prostitution — disappeared under a law sponsored by the do-gooder Signora Merlin. (I didn’t get to Italy till 1959.)

    • Thanks for sharing these details! I haven’t found such a detailed explanation anywhere else. I thought the “casino” was a little “casa,” coming from the influence of the Spanish language into Venetian.

      • John Peter Maher says:

        French-Italian connections are many. I first landed in Italy during my US Army hitch (1959), and I return there often. I lived in Vicenza and Verona for over two years, loaded for bear, so to speak, with an MA in Latin and Greek, good knowledge of French, Spanish and Serbian (US Army Counter-intelligence Corps – CIC). Venice is closer to Dalmatia and Bosnia, a largely Serb land, than it is to Rome. There’s a strong Slavic element in Venice. Walk from St Mark’s Piazza to the water and you are on “the Slavonic (Slavs’) Bank – Riva degli Schiavoni. — The Venetian greeting “ciao” is from Venet “Sciao – slave and Slav”. It once meant “I am your servant”.

      • John Peter Maher says:

        I’m an etymologist of the school known in German as “Woerter und Sachen — Words & Things”. Motto “no word study without thing study (and vice versa). Venice is a gold mine for me.

  2. Yes, Venice has a long history of engaging with this region. But Venetian friends of mine have always commented that the Venetian dialect is most heavily influenced by Spanish, from Spaniards who came to the city in its early years. This shows up in words like “casa” and “calle” (even though some pronunciations may be different). Before I learned Italian, I could often speak Spanish with a Venetian and be understood. Since you speak Spanish, you probably see these connections too.

  3. John Peter Maher says:

    The resemblances between Spanish and Venetian, e.g. calle and casa, are not due to borrowing from Spanish, but are a mutual inheritance from Vulgar Latin. Casa in Latin means ‘shack’ and calle ‘, from Latin callis ‘tight, narrow little path, track’.

  4. Nancy Schwalen says:

    This also makes me think of the term “pied-à-terre,” a foot on the ground; in other words an apartment, usually in another city and/or separate from your normal, usually bigger home. (When Andy was living in San Francisco, I always wished we had a pied-à-terre in SF. Now I wouldn’t mind one in New York.)

  5. quintolatini says:

    Hello, I’m just wandering about your sources to identify Hotel Lisbon with Casanova’s casino. I am also a bit disappointed by the lack of accuracy of your report: the casino was rented not from Lord Holderness but from his cook, who bought the casino for cheap. And please notice that the episode of Casanova’s gondola being stolen does not happen in Venice, but in Murano, in the casino of de Bernis (which he gave to MM)

    • Hello! Thank you for reaching out to check these facts. For these video posts, I usually keep the story and details quite short. In my book I wrote this about the ownership of the casino: “Casanova tells us that his casino was ‘a hundred paces from the Teatro San Moise’ (Vol. 4, p. 48). This building, owned by Zuanne Mocenigo, housed several casini, his among them, in a prime location so near the theater and Ridotto. Casanova rented it after its previous owner had left town—the British Ambassador Extraordinary Robert Darcy, fourth Earl of Holderness, who lived in Venice at the Palazzo Manfrin from 1744 to 1746. Though Holderness lived with his wife and children, he apparently kept a spectacularly opulent casino here that Casanova then rented from the cook who had bought it from Lord Holderness.” So you can see that my book featured the details, as I mentioned in the blog post. Furthermore, I confirmed the building location with Helmut Watzlawick, who researched the cadastrals of Venice; he noted that this building held a number of casini, though the interiors have changed greatly since C’s day, and Watzlawick believed that this was the correct site.

      As for the theft of C’s boat. I have re-read the section in Vol. 4 of the memoirs to see where I might have made a mistake. I use Trask’s edition. In it, Casanova mentions it being theater season and he writes, “…I go to Murano to fetch M.M., who was waiting for me; from there I go to the casino…” (p. 139). I assumed that he was taking M.M. to his casino which is a few steps from Teatro San Moise, and he mentions them going there and to the Ridotto, both of which are near his casino. He then tells of their amorous night and how he sees someone leaving with his boat in the morning. Next he goes to the “big bridge” to find someone who will lend or rent him a boat, so this may refer to the main bridge in Murano, but Trask doesn’t provide any note about this location. Where did you find it noted that the theft occurred at de Bernis’ Murano casino (which M.M. had access to)?

      A fellow Casanovist in Rome has checked my research for me in the past. I’ve reached out to him now to try to confirm the location of the theft and will post more if we find confirmation. I really try hard to get the facts right and have worked with Watzlawick, Leeflang, Vitelli, Kelly, and Contini, and if I have it wrong, I would like to correct my error.

      May I ask what is your background in Casanova scholarship? We are planning ahead for a 2025 symposium (to follow up on the one I organized in Venice in 2019), and I can keep you informed once we have a plan.

      • quintolatini says:

        Hello and thanks for this prompt reply! Let’s go in the details: 1- the Venice casino. I have no notice of an article of Watzclawiz consulting the cadastre. If he really found a building with several casinos, ok let’s say this is a good step even id it’s not the “smoking gun”. I just would notice nobody can deduce the casino had access from the canal, also because Casanova himself writes about its access from the calle. Furthermore, it popped in my mind: where did the cook prepare the meals to be served on request if he had not a restaurant, an osteria, a bacaro nearby?

        2- I am absolutely sure the stealing of the boat was in Murano. In this case the French, English and Italian version coincide almost at 100%. One should always read the original text to avoid problems – I have met several mistakes all along the way. The French text says: ” Le premier lundi d’Octobre, jour dans lequel les théâtres s’ouvrant, les masques commençaient, je vais à S. François, je monte en poupe de mon bateau, et je vais à Muran prendre M. M. qui m’attendait ; de là je vais au casin, et les nuits étant devenues plus longues nous soupons, puis nous allons nous coucher, et au son du réveil nous nous disposons à nous entredonner un bonjour amoureux, lorsqu’un bruit qu’il me semble d’entendre du côté du canal me fait aller à la fenêtre. Je reste fort surpris voyant un gros bateau qui partait enlevant le mien…” And in english: ” The first Monday in October, when the theatres are opened and masks may be worn, I went to St. Francis to get my boat, and thence to Muran for my mistress, afterwards making for the casino. The nights were now long enough for us to have ample time for enjoyment, so we began by making an excellent supper, and then devoted ourselves to the worship of Love and Sleep. Suddenly, in the midst of a moment of ecstasy, I heard a noise in the direction of the canal, which aroused my suspicions, and I rushed to the window. What was my astonishment and anger to see a large boat taking mine in tow…” As for the “grand pont” it obviously can only be the one at the end of the Rio di San Matteo, still existing. As for your final question about my background: I am a professional researcher (half truffles-dog, half Holmes), who happened to be interested in Casanova – just apply the usual search techniques to the new matter. Sources first of all! (Read my book about the sources of Corto Maltese “Corto Maltese dietro le quinte”). By the way, about sources: where did you read the story of Casanova being duped in Teatro Goldoni? I cannot trace it… Have a good day, thanks a lot A.Q.

        Il giorno lun 24 gen 2022 alle ore 06:23 seductivevenice ha scritto:

        > seductivevenice commented: “Hello! Thank you for reaching out to check > these facts. For these video posts, I usually keep the story and details > quite short. In my book I wrote this about the ownership of the casino: > “Casanova tells us that his casino was ‘a hundred paces from the Te” >

  6. Hello again, Sorry for the delay in responding, as my job has been very busy. All of the research I got from Helmut Watzlawick was via personal email messages. I’m not sure if he published all these findings, but I’m checking with one of the editors of Casanoviana to find out. We are also looking into the question of where the boat theft took place.

    • quintolatini says:

      The boat theft happened in Burano, this is out of question. I already sent you the original text in french and the english translation as well. And again, where did you read the story of Casanova being duped at Teatro Goldoni?

      • The information about Teatro Goldoni/Teatro San Luca comes from the book Daily Life in Venice in the Time of Casanova by Maurice Andrieux. You can read the details there. All of my sources are listed in the bibliography of my book, so if you wish to find more information, I suggest you get a copy. In the USA it’s titled Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps and it’s also published in Venice as Casanova’s Venice: A Walking Guide, in English and Italian, from Supernova Edizioni. I worked closely with many Casanovists before publishing my findings and feel quite confident in my research, though if I am in error I will rectify that.

  7. Dear Mr. Bruni (that is your name, yes?), Just an additional note. The Casanovist community of researchers are a generous, knowledgeable, kind, and welcoming group who shares their research in the interest of learning and forwarding our knowledge. You are welcome to engage in research with us with an open mind and framework of curiosity. You may wish to subscribe to (and perhaps share your own research with) Casanoviana, the publication focused on these studies. Be assured that this group does all it can to research carefully and support each other in this endeavor. You may subscribe by contacting Antonio Trampus at Ca’ Foscari in Venice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s