6 - Corte Del Duca Sforza


Parrocchia Di S.Stefano 3063-3065 - Home to Teresa Imer


Leaving the Campo San Samuele behind, take the first right, back down the Calle Malipiero, walking past Casanova's family home once more. At the end of the street, under the Sotoportego Malipiero, take a right into the Corte Del Duca Sforza (also named Parrocchia Di S.Stefano).

It was here, next to the tree in house numbers 3063 -3065, that the Imer family lived, acting friends of the Casanova family. (With his wife and daughter back home in Venice, Giuseppi Imer would later have an affair with Casanova’s mother whilst performing in Verona).

The apartment’s rear balcony overlooked Senator Malipiero’s bedroom from across his garden. It was from here that the 17 year old Teresa Imer would flirt with the 76 year old in an attempt to find a rich sponsor for her singing career. 

Despite his age and his gout, Malipiero, who had given up everything except himself, still cultivated an amorous bent. He was in love wih Teresa, daughter of the actor Imer, who lived in a nearby house whose windows were opposite his bedroom. This girl, who at the time was seventeen years old, pretty, whimsical and coquettish, and studying to become a singer in the theatre, was cruel to him. She was always letting herself be seen at her windows, and the old man was now drunk on her charms.
— Casanova - The Story Of My Life (Volume I)

Teresa's flirting with Malipiero, across the gardens from her bedroom window, eventually earned her daily invites into the palace, where the old man would fall in love with her, even, taking the 15 year old Casanova's advice and asking her to marry him. She refused but managed to keep him interested, although comfortably at arm’s length by always visiting with her mother.

One day, whilst the Senator was sleeping, Teresa was left alone with a 17 year old Casanova who flirted with her, taking it one step further.

In the innocent gaiety of our natures we were overcome with the desire to explore the differences between our bodies.
— Casanova ~ The Story Of My Life (Volume I)

 They were so carried away that they never noticed the old man awaken and hobble into the room with his walking stick.

We were at the most interesting part of our examination when a violent blow from a cane fell on my neck, followed by another, which would have been followed by more if I hadn’t very rapidly escaped from the hail by making for the door.
— Casanova - The Story Of My Life (Volume I)

Following this, Casanova would be banished from the Malipiero Palace forever.

His relationship with Teresa would continue long after Malipiero’s death. Historians even speculate the two could be related, given their similar looks and the long affair of Casanova's mother with Teresa's father.

In 1753, whilst visiting Signora Manzoni in the building opposite the Imer house, a 29 year old Casanova would learn that Teresa, who was by now married and an established singer in Vienna, was back in Venice to visit her father with her 7 year old son (at the same family house).

Casanova called over the road to catch-up and was invited back the following morning for perhaps the most eventful breakfast of his life.

I spent three hours with her, of which the last one was the one that counted.
— Casanova - The Story Of My Life (Volume V)

Nine months later, Teresa would give birth to a child, called Sophia, leading to the breakup of her marriage. Casanova would meet the child five years later, in 1758, by accident, when he bumped into Teresa singing at a concert in Amsterdam.

I was extremely surprised when I saw that the child had precisely my features.
— Casanova ~ The Story Of My Life (Volume V)

Learning that he was now a father, Casanova offered to educate the 5 year old, however Teresa refused to let go of her daughter and instead offered her 13 year old son, Giuseppe, whom she was struggling to finance.  Casanova agreed although, now 33, was heartbroken to have to leave Sophia.

Their paths were to cross once more, in London, during the 1770's when Casanova attended a masquerade ball at "Mrs. Cornelys", a grand mansion Teresa (now Cornely) had opened for operatic shows and aristocratic Venetian themed events at Carlisle House on Soho Square. With a Chinese bridge possibly made by Thomas Chippendale and entertainment from the likes of Bach, the cost of running, what is now regarded as, London's first nightclub had left her bankrupt and, as a result, in prison. At this point, Casanova, himself in financial difficulties and in his mid forties, took over responsibility for the cost of Sophia's upbringing.  

Teresa would spend much of her later life in UK prisons for unpaid debts, and - like Casanova - even successfully escaped from her cell on one occasion, following a fire, only to be shortly recaptured. She would die in Fleet Prison, London, aged 74, in August 1797.

Whilst stood here, outside her childhood home, it is hard to imagine what sights the playful young Venetian child would grow up to see in adult life and how sad it would all end. 

Interestingly, that eventful breakfast in 1752, would not have been Casanova's first time in this building since the couple had parted as teenagers. Between 1743-46, he also worked here for the lawyer Marco da Leze, who was renting a flat from Giuseppe Imer to use as his office.