I looked down and saw that my hands were writing a manuscript. My legs were clad in pale blue damask breeches, my feet in black shoes with silver buckles. My hand that held the pen was tickled by my lace cuffs. I had become Casanova.
This is one part of the Casanova Museum and Experience, which opened this spring in the Cannaregio district of Venice. It is the first such museum dedicated to Casanova (though the one in Duchov in the Czech Republic, where many of C’s papers are held, has an area dedicated to his works). What makes this museum different is its more experiential nature. The audio tour coupled with many videos and even virtual reality goggles immerses visitors in 18th century Venice, Casanova’s playground.
That’s how I came to see my hand writing a manuscript.
In my virtual reality experience, I drank with Senator Bragadin, women flirted with me or tapped me on the chest, I gambled, I rode in a gondola, and I wrote, all in Venice’s streets or buildings. I recognized the staircase at the Ca’ Sagredo, with its enormous murals.
One room is dedicated to films made about C’s life, with video clips running continuously. Another room discusses C’s writings. Numerous artifacts from the 18th century are on display, from various sources, as well as mannikins showing clothing of the time period. I even got to sit on lovely replica chairs.
I previously posted about the bedroom scene–a rumpled bed with a sheer screen where they project an image of Casanova and a lover moving towards each other and then falling upon the bed. Of course a museum dedicated to C must include information about his love affairs, for that is what most people know about him, but fortunately it is not the only element presented about his life. For many people, this is how they get to know something about Casanova, and hopefully they will be inspired to study further and learn more about the whole man.
The museum also owns one Casanova manuscript, a letter. I wish it had said more about this letter, its provenance and contents. I’ll write more about this later. Hopefully as time goes on, the museum will be able to purchase more such manuscripts.
The museum bookshop has opened only recently, so they do not yet carry my book. But hopefully that will change soon! On the day I made my visit, they were having an event with an author of a novel about C, published by Mondadori, who hired a dozen actors clad in period costume to pose on the staircase and walk the Venetian streets.