The latest in my series of Casanova sites in Rome, which I visited with Adriano Contini in 2018.
We saw some 18th century paintings of the Quirinale and Monte Cavallo, where Casanova first met Pope Benedict XIV. After the Pope’s warm welcome and offer to return often, Casanova next met him at the Villa Medici, on the edge of the Villa Borghese gardens.
The Pope was out strolling with Cardinal Annibale Albani (say that three times fast!) and the Venetian Ambassador. A man approached and asked the Pope something, and the Pope responded by whispering something in the man’s ear, giving him a blessing, and commending him to God. Casanova then told the Pope, “That man was not satisfied with the answer Your Holiness gave him.” What? Who would think to speak in such a way to the Pope!? But Benedict was apparently amused and questioned Casanova why he believed this.
Casanova explained that the man must have already commended himself to God but found no relief, and now the Pope was telling him to petition God again. He said, “But this man also knows that Your Holiness is his prime minister; so it is easy to imagine how frustrated he feels now that he has been sent back to Your Holiness’s master.” Fortunately, the Pope found this highly amusing. He even granted Casanova dispensation to eat meat instead of fish, as C had complained that he suffered from inflammation of the eyes. (I’ll have to remember that prescription next time my eyes are inflamed.) The story quickly got around town and caused people to want to converse with this witty Venetian.
On my Rome walk, I passed the Villa Medici, but apparently I didn’t take any pictures of it! (Thanks, Wikipedia, for providing one.) But here is a fountain nearby, (my photo) and the villa is quite near the Trinità dei Monti at the top of the Spanish Steps.