Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Views on Venice - Rent a Palace... or an Apartment

Palazzo Loredan dell'Ambasciatore - Photo: David Nicholls
(Venice, Italy) Palazzo Loredan dell'Ambasciatore is a 15th-century Gothic palace that once belonged to the noble Loredan family. It was called "dell'ambasciatore" because it was the home of the ambassadors of the Austrian Empire to the Republic.

One Loredan ancestor, Antonio, was the adminstrator of Corfu who defeated the Turks in 1716, together with Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, a Saxon general. After the battle, Count Schulenburg set up house inside the Loredan Palace, along with twenty-five members of his entourage and four gondoliers, and was known for his illustrious dinner parties and admirable art collection.

In 1752, another ancestor, Francesco Loredan, who also happened to be the Doge, offered the palazzo as a residence for the Ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire in exchange for twenty-nine years of restorations. Even in those days, a Venetian palace was costly to maintain!

The first Imperial Ambassador to live there was Count Philip Joseph Orsini-Rosenberg. If you have read Andrea di Robilant's book, A Venetian Affair, about the intriguing letters exchanged by Andrea's ancestors, you will remember that one of Count Rosenberg's claims to fame was his marriage in his vintage years to the vibrant Giustiniana Wynne -- her passionate love affair with Andrea Memmo was the topic of that book.

In fact, another friend, Ian Kelly, has written a new biography called Casanova in which Giustiniana Wynne is also featured. Ian has dug up even more riveting details about that fascinating woman who, after discovering she was pregnant with Andrea Memmo's child, ran off to Paris to ask Giocomo Casanova for help. She married Count Rosenberg years later when she discovered that Andrea Memmo was in love with another woman. Imagine, after more than 250 years, people are still curious about Giustiniana -- and Venice's grand intrigues.

Venice is like a theatrical production, one that has been going on for centuries. The set remains almost the same, as do many of the characters -- shopkeepers and gondoliers, fishmongers and aristocrats -- each playing their particular role. Great minds built this city; their thoughts still permeate the air. Memories linger on silk wall coverings and dangle from Ca' Rezzonico chandeliers. Footsteps from centuries ago have left their imprint on the pebbled Venetian pavimento. Every living space comes with a story, one that you can step into, or one you create yourself.

These days, the Palazzo dell'Ambasciatore is owned by the Gaggia family. The grandmother of Filippo Gaggia used to entertain in the piano nobile you see, which is called Ca' Cerchieri.

Filippo Gaggia is now one of the owners of Views on Venice, one of the most prestigious short-term rental agencies in town. More importantly...
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  1. Hello Cat -- nice article on Views on Venice, where I always stay. Being one of the people who has become friends with the Gaggia family over the years by staying at Ca' Cerchieri (we call it Ca' Candace since I was there so frequently!) I'm happy to see such a wealth of information that you present. Have a happy new year!

  2. Hello, Candace -- Of course I googled you... I'll bet you enjoyed the Steinway!

    It was a real pleasure to write about Views on Venice, and to try to capture a hint of Ca' Candace--er, Ca' Cerchieri's history.

    Happy New Year back to you!