In Casanova’s Footsteps: Rome–Palazzo Venezia

Casanova often relied on the connections he made with others to pave his way in a new city. This is abundantly true both times he visited Rome. When he returned to the city in 1770, he explains that “Signor Dandolo, always my faithful friend, sent me two letters of recommendation written by the same Venetian nobleman, Signor Zulian, who had recommended me to the Venetian Ambassador in Madrid, Signor Mocenigo.” It’s clear that Casanova reveled in telling his readers about these important noblemen who were happy to assist him in his travels. “One of the letters,” he continues, “was addressed to Signor Erizzo, the Venetian Ambassador, which greatly pleased me.”

Casanova later tells us that Erizzo “had shown the greatest desire to make [his] acquaintance” and that he was “very well satisfied with the reception [Erizzo] gave me.”

Willard Trask, translator of the edition of Casanova’s History of My Life that I am using, explains that Niccolò Marcantonio Erizzo had held the position of Procuratore of San Marco, the most powerful position in Venetian politics after the Doge. He also held the honor of Cavaliere of the Stola d’Oro. Casanova describes him as “a man of great intelligence, a good citizen, very eloquent, and a consummate politician.”

“He congratulated me on being on my travels,” C states, “and on being protected by the State Inquisitors instead of persecuted by them, for Signor Zulian had recommended me to him with their consent.” It’s interesting to note that the State Inquisitors were continuing to monitor Casanova’s whereabouts, so far from Venice and so many years after his escape for the infamous Leads prison.

Erizzo invited Casanova to dine with him at the Palazzo Venezia “and he told me to come there whenever I had nothing better to do,” adds Casanova.


Facade of Palazzo Venezia

In Vol. 12, Ch. I, Casanova continues to tell more stories of the people he met while dining at the Ambassador’s residence. There was a Count Manuzzi, who C had met in Madrid. Manuzzi told the Ambassador that he and Casanova were close friends, but Casanova writes, “Greatly astonished that a man who had carried vengeance to the point of trying to have me assassinated should speak of me as of an intimate friend, I determined to conceal my feelings and wait to see what turn the thing would take.” They went on that evening to another house on the Piazza di Spagna, not far from C’s rooms, dined and played faro, where Manuzzi “won twice what he had lost the evening before.” They were joined by the Chevalier de Neuville, who had come to see the Ambassador about attaining an annulment.

The Palazzo Venezia, which is also known as the Palazzo San Marco, in 1464 was the Pope’s residence because Pope Paul II (Cardinal Barbo) came from Venice. In 1564 the building became the residence of Venetian Ambassadors to Rome (and later, in WWII, Mussolini moved in and famously gave speeches from the balcony over the entrance).


Coat of arms for Cardinal Barbo, the Venetian who became Pope Paul II

Located in Piazza Venezia, the Palazzo sits across from the “wedding cake,” the affectionate term for the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, an enormous white marble construction known as the Altare della Patria. This enormous square used to be filled with more buildings in Casanova’s day, but a number of them were pulled down over the years, making space for the Monumento, which was inaugurated in 1911.

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Etching by Giuseppe Vasi showing the Palazzo Venezia surrounded by numerous buildings in 1752.

(Quotes from C’s History of My Life, Vol. 12, Ch. 1, Willard Trask ed. Historical notes found on by Roberto Piperno. Images from Wikipedia, except for the Vasi etching, which comes from Piperno.)

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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2 Responses to In Casanova’s Footsteps: Rome–Palazzo Venezia

  1. Casanova was a guy loved and hated by everyone. Women love him, men were eager to know him and some men wanted him dead ’cause he seduced their wifes ? And interesting character for sure !

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