...Also known as, Venice laughing in the midst of its fall.
Decadence and decline. Rococo and baroque stylishly proclaiming, "We don't care. We see the end and we are going to continue making the most of it, more actually. Because that is who we are."
Peals of laughter, clinks of Murano glass.
Changing masks in a candlelit corner while the orchestra tries not to fall out of the gondolas precariously moored just beyond the windows in the Grand Canal.
A lover (Casanova), a gambler (the same), a fool (Pulcinella) and the patriarch (or a doge) could pass in mixed company during one long, last Carnevale without care save for when the reality of plague pounded at the door and then with none other than Napoleon to follow to end the party for good.
But until then...until then...the music continued to play and the likes of Tiepolo lifted patrons to the status of gods on frescoed ceilings while Canaletto shaded the panoramas for the passing aristocrats finishing their educations on the Grand Tour.
Families like the Rezzonico's could buy their respectability and nobility too. And they did. Over centuries, they built up their palazzo, home to what is most likely now the largest ballroom in Venice and installed a Pope on the throne. Until in the early 1800's, when they, like the Republic of Venice itself, were no more.
What remains are remnants of the fall of an empire, traces of which are dazzling enough to almost, but not quite, rival Versailles. This is La Serenissima on its own terms and it is just as an important part of her scheme as any serenading gondolier; one that keeps us thronging to her giddily many centuries after the gilt and putti were applied with enough abandon to prolong a renaissance.
Ca' Rezzonico or The Museum of 18th Century Venice
Dorsoduro 3136, Venice
Entrance by land in Dorsoduro across from the Campo San Barnaba
Entrance on the Grand Canal via the Ca' Rezzonico vaporetto stop on the #1 line
Open: 10am - 6pm (last entry at 5pm)
in winter from 10am to 5pm (last entry at 4pm)
Closed on Tuesdays
Admission: 10 Euros, free the first Sunday of every month
To take a virtual visit via Google, click here.
Et en plus: One of my favorite painters, John Singer Sargent, had a studio at Ca' Rezzonico during the period when the poet Robert Browning was in residence (he passed away here, the palace was owned by his son during that time). And for those of you wondering, yes, Fortuny did the fabrics for the walls during the most recent renovation in 2001. There is a wonderful view opening out onto the Grand Canal, but I would recommend not leaving it for the end of the day...I was quite literally shooed off the property to the nearby vaporetto stop, hence the lack of photos. If you go, I do hope that you enjoy...