1 - Fondamenta De Le Scuole


Teatro San Samuele - Casanova's parent's theatre

There's probably no better place to start the walking tour of Casanova's life than at the theatre where his parents met and worked together.  Not far from the Grand Canal, at the foot of the Ponte dell'Accademia wooden bridge, hidden behind the Chiesa di San Vidal church, over the tiny bridge on Calle Frutarol, down a narrow street with barely room for one person and under the rather uninviting passageway, you reach another small canal bridge. Here you will find the Fondamenta De Le Scuole.

This school was built on the spot of the Teatro San Samuele, which was demolished in 1894. Casanova’s mother, Zanetta Farussi, was a beautiful leading actress at the theatre in the 1700’s and his legal father, Gaetano Casanova, was a fellow actor there. His real father however was rumoured to be one of many others including the theatre’s influential owner, Michele Grimani, whom Gaetano had made his children's protector.

Stage actresses in the 1700’s were often also seen to be prostitutes and, as a result, young English aristocrats would often make the Grand Tour to Venice to spend time with them. It also adds credence to other rumours that Casanova’s real father could be one of many influential Venetians or English travellers.

The same rumours around his true parentage surrounded Casanova’s three younger brothers and two sisters with comedian Giuseppe Imer and famous Italian theatre director, Carlo Goldoni, both having affairs with Zanetta whilst working at the same theatre. Perhaps the most interesting rumour would surround his younger brother, Francesco Giuseppe Casanova, whose real father was strongly rumoured to be the future Prince Of Wales, King George II, who is alleged to have dated the young actress when she performed in London.

The theatre, built in 1655, caught fire in 1747 and rebuilt in 1748, reappeared later in Casanova's life as he was to play in the orchestra there, having learnt the violin whilst studying law, medicine and chemistry in Padoa, between the ages of 9 and 14.

In 1753, as a 28 year old year old, he would take Caterina Capretta to a show at the very same theatre:

I took a box for the opera seria which was being given at San Samuele, and not bothering to eat dinner, waited for them at the time and place agreed upon. I saw Caterina Capretta, ravishingly beautiful and elegantly masked.
— Casanova ~ The Story Of My Life (Volume 3)