When most people think of Casanova, they think of him in his heyday, surrounded by nobility, beautiful women, dashing men. Certainly, this is Casanova’s place in our collective memory, but his sojourns might also be filled with anxieties about his future days and years. Casanova rarely kept any form of employment for very long, and though he seemed to thrive on adventure, his worries must have mounted as he aged.
At the Casanova in Place Symposium this June, Stefano Feroci and Cyril Francès explore Casanova’s adventures and misadventures in Florence and Tuscany and later, after Trieste, in Spessa. Read their abstracts below as introductions to the papers they’ll be presenting. I hope you’ll join us in Venice 28-30 June to hear the full story!
From Stefano Feroci:
Casanova visited Florence and Tuscany four times between the years 1760 and 1771. They were not calm journeys. The first time, in Florence, Pisa and Livorno, he was seen to travel in pompous and bright suits, although later, at almost fifty, between Siena and Florence, Casanova was already showing the signs of an anxious existence. Florence and Tuscany, discovered by the Venetian adventurer, were then between the Regency and the new dominion of the genial Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo, who arrived at Pitti in 1765, just eighteen. To him will go the credit for a flourishing economic rebirth, new civil liberties, the end of the Inquisition’s tribunals, and the abolition of the death penalty. Already the grand European Tour had been born, of which Florence was an obligatory stop for its famous patrimony of ancient and Renaissance art.Here, Giacomo Casanova came for four visits, and new archival research reveals the meetings, the manoeuvres, the gallant adventures, the political contacts, and the cheatings. Casanova will accompany us to his apartment on the banks of the river Arno, on the stages of the theatre of the Pergola and the Watermelon (today Niccolini), in the Florentine caffés, and to Pisa, where he met the famous poet Corilla Olimpica. We will meet all kinds of swindlers, beautiful women, and ambassadors. This paper reenacts a journey, along time and space, in the Florence and Tuscany of the second part of the eighteenth century—among the most alive, interesting, and least known moments of its bimillenary history.
From Cyril Francès:
The last story of l’Histoire de ma vie relates an ultimate journey: Casanova leaves Trieste, where he is waiting for the Inquisitors’ permission to go back to Venice, to stay in the country of Spessa at the invitation of the count Torriano. Around this farcical, eccentric, and violent character and in the boredom that spread through this secluded spot, takes place a little society that is the burlesque miniature of the “bonne compagnie” with whom Casanova spent time during his travels all around Europe.
The description of this isolated place where time seems to have been stopped leads the memorialist to invoke the memory of many important episodes of l’Histoire de ma vie, whose incidents of this last adventure are an ironic and derisory echo. Their narrative offers the opportunity to the writer to use all his skills of storytelling, even if they cannot hide the nostalgia and the helplessness that beset the writing at the end of the Memoirs.