5 - Palazzo Malipiero


Home to Casanova's Guardian, Senator Alvise Gasparo Malipiero


As you look at the front of the Chiesa Di San Samuele church from the no.2 vaporeto stop, you will notice a large but rather uninteresting building on your right - the beautiful canalside facade of the building can only be seen by boat from the middle of The Grand Canal, or from the Ca' Rezzonico waterbus jetty on the opposite bank. This building is the Palazzo Malipiero, home to influential Venetian senator Alvise Gasparo Malipiero, who played a huge role in shaping Casanova’s life.

Originally built in the 11th Century, it fell into the hands of the wealthy Malipiero family in 1590, that of the 66th Doge of Venice over 130 years earlier (1457-1462), and their coat of arms can still be seen above the door at 3201 Campo San Samuele.

What makes the building unique for Venice is that the two floors are accessed by their own separate entrances, hallways, stairways and even separate porta d'acqua (water doors). Whatsmore, and importantly to Casanova's story, it has a beautiful garden separating it from the back of the houses on Corte Duca Sforza (again, best viewed from the canal itself). 

Despite living next door to the palace, it was actually San Samuele's Father Tosello that introduced Casanova to the 76 year old aristocrat, Senator Malipiero, who moved in the best circles and surrounded himself with "an assortment of ladies who lived their lives to the full" and men who "knew everything that went on in town". 

He was a handsome man, a connoisseur of fine food and wine, and a sharp wit as well; his qualities included a great knowledge of the world, a native Venetian eloquence, and the shrewdness of a senator who had retired after no less than forty years of governing the Serene Republic and did not cease counting the fair sex until after he had twenty mistresses and became convinced that he could no longer please even one.
— Casanova ~ The Story Of My Life (Volume I)

He was obviously a role model for the 14 year old Casanova and the youngster attended many dinner parties at the elegant palace and its gardens, being introduced to many “ladies of fashion”, “respectable ladies”, who all trusted the young priest with their beautiful daughters.

The old senator and the youngster enjoyed each other's company that much, Casanova would become a daily visitor to the palace.

When he saw that the example I set was even better than the advice I gave, he made me his daily table companion.
— Casanova ~ The Story Of My Life (Volume I)

The square in which you stand is possibly the most important location in Casanova's life. He would have played here as a child, walked across it to the church in his priest's robe, and in the other direction wearing his fancy clothes for the parties at the palace, where it is said that he basically lived from 1740 until he was banished in 1742 by an angry Malipiero, predictably, as a result of a fling with a woman, of whom we shall learn about at our next stop...