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Ca’ Rezzonico

Ca’ Rezzonico interiorThis richly furnished Baroque palace is one of the most splendid in Venice. It is also one of the few palazzi in the city that opens its doors to the public. Since 1934 it has housed the Museum of 18th century Venice, its rooms furnished with frescoes, paintings, and period pieces from other local palaces or museums.

The building was begun by Baldassare Longhena, architect of Santa Maria della Salute in 1667, but money ran out before the second floor was started. In 1712, long after Longhena’s death, the incomplete palace was bought by the Rezzonicos, a family of bankers from Genoa.

A large portion of the Rezzonico fortune was spent on the purchase, construction and decoration of the palace. By 1758, it was in a fit state for the Rezzonicos to throw the first of the huge banquets and celebratory parties for which they became famous.

Ca’ Rezzonico Grand Canal viewIn 1888 the palace was bought by the poet Robert Browning and his son, Pen, who was married to an American heiress. Browning had little time to enjoy the palace. He died in 1889 from bronchitis.

The outstanding attraction in the palace today is Giorgio Massari’s ballroom, which over two floors occupies almost the entire space of the building at the rear. Beautifully restored, it has been embellished with chandeliers, carved furniture, and a ceiling with frescoes.

Eighteenth-century paintings occupy the second floor. A whole room is devoted to Pietro Longhi’s portrayals of everyday Venetian life. On the floor above is a reconstructed 18th century apothecary’s shop and puppet theatre.

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