Casanova in da House, Yo!

I’m a busy kid in Venice! I visited the Palazzo Zaguri exhibit, “Venice Secrets.” It’s huge–many floors filled with torture devices and their grisly descriptions. Chairs where they set people on fire, beds like grills, pokey things and spiky things. Many of the examples come from other cities besides Venice, but there are also a number of stories and examples from the Venetian archives. I’ll report on those more later.

But today I want to focus on the items related to Casanova.


The exhibit begins at the top floor, after you climb lots and lots of stairs. There they’ve created a replica of Casanova’s prison cell from the Leads–a little odd, considering that the real cell is on display about 10 minutes’ walk away at the Palazzo Ducale. I visited that one some years ago, so I don’t remember how accurate this replica is in comparison. But it does have a bed covered with straw and an armchair and footrest. Casanova famously hid a metal rod that he used to pick his way out of his cell in this chair, so that was a nice detail.


The long staircase to the beginning of the exhibit. The ticket counter clerk said she gets tired of hearing the voice that recites the introduction to the exhibit all day, so she was happy to listen to the disco music from the shop next door.


Replica of C’s prison cell


The bed and chair in C’s cell. Looks too nice for a prison!

They also had a mannikin wearing clothes supposedly like Casanova’s when he escaped from prison, even with dirt and wear marks on them, as you can see here. I was sorry to see that they didn’t include the hat with a feather in it, which C described in his memoirs.

Most interesting were the two documents in C’s hand–notes for his memoirs. Originals (though it didn’t mention how they were authenticated), This is quite exciting to me, as most of C’s original papers are either in Czechoslovakia, where he lived at the end of his life, or in Paris because the National library bought the memoirs. Also displayed were copies of Manuzzi’s accusations against C after spying on him; the real documents are in the state archives.


Notes for Ch. 1 of the memoirs, from the private collection of Pistore


Notes for Ch. 3-4

Copies of spy reports


Replica of the spy Manuzzi’s report against Casanova, which led to C’s arrest

There was also information about C’s friendship with Pietro Zaguri, one of the past owners of the palazzo. C went there a number of times and also encountered Lorenzo DaPonte, who is described in one of the rooms. After doing so much research on these folks, it’s so interesting to inhabit the spaces they inhabited.


I’ll post separately about the other goodies housed in this museum. I’m sad to report that they did not have my books on display, even though I write about Casanova in one book, and in the other about Veronica Franco and Giustina Rossi, who are both part of the exhibit. I must rectify this situation….

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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3 Responses to Casanova in da House, Yo!

  1. Nancy Schwalen says:

    Why am I not surprised that you have found even for about Casanova?! Enjoy the rest of your visit.

  2. Paloma Bellod says:

    Hello Kathleen!
    First of all, I am green, green, green with envy!!! May be next time we’ll take a Spritz together!
    And not, the cell from the Leads was 1,90m high, less than Casanova’s height, so he couldn’t stand freely in it, and the ceiling was plain and not sloping. AFAIK, the cells we can see now in are reconstructions of that old ones, but a very good reconstructions, so I was told that they were as we can see them now. Anyway, it is a good occasion to be there, I’m crying…
    Please, enjoy a lot!!
    Best regards from Spain. Paloma

    Lots of kisses for all Casanova’s lovers!

    • Ah, thank you for the details about the real cell. Since I am away from home, I couldn’t consult my books, so I appreciate that you shared this. I will raise my next spritz to you! Salute!

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