12 - Campo Sant'Anzolo


Campo Sant'Anzolo - where Casanova performed many pranks

Leaving the Hotel NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci, head back the way you came to the Corte De L'Albero, leaving on the narrow street diagonally opposite and emerging alongside the small canal. Here, cross the tiny bridge and walk along the Ramo Al Ponte De L'Abero, taking the first right on to Calle Avvocati. This brings you into the large Campo Sant'Anzolo square.

It was here in 1745, that a 20 year old violin-playing Casanova, with his brother Francesco and seven musician friends, would play one of his most infamous prank. They'd made a habit of getting drunk in a tavern after their concerts, and then heading to a brothel or to cause havoc around town.

The whole town complained of our nocturnal pranks, and we laughed at the investigations undertaken to find the disturbers of the peace. We had to guard our secret carefully, for had we been caught, the authorities would have taken delight in condemning us to spend time on board the galley of the Council of Ten, docked opposite the two large columns in the Piazzetta San Marco.
— Casanova - The Story Of My Life (Volume II)

They'd wake midwives up in the middle of the night to send them to deliver women which were not due, they'd wake up doctors and send them to cure noblemen who were not sick, and they'd wake priests to go and deliver the last rites to people who were perfectly fit and alive.

In every street they staggered through, they'd ring the doorbells and run off or, if the door was open, they'd go up the stairs and wake up the petrified inhabitants to shout at them they'd left the door open.

If they could get into the bell towers - maybe the one opposite you on the square, or the one at the church that used to stand here until 1837 - they'd cut all the bell ropes, or wake up the neighbourhood by ringing the bells to indicate there was a fire.

One very dark night we decided to overturn a big marble table which was a sort of monument. The table stood almost in the middle of the Campo Sant’Angelo.
— Casanova - The Story Of My Life (Volume II)

Before that fateful night, the table had stood there for over 250 years, having been used as the place where recruits for the army of the Venetian Republic were paid for fighting the alliance of France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire during the War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1516). 

Whilst it is no longer there today, the table must have escaped serious damage, as it appears on the right hand edge of this painting by Gabriel Bella from 1780...