On our recent trip to Venice, Italy the travel gods smiled upon us with a private historic home tour the Palazzo Cappello Malipiero Barnabò. Ever since I’ve been a child I’ve dreamed of foraging through old homes and castles in Europe. Old buildings offer romance, their patina of days gone by, my overactive imagination races with intrigue and child-like wonderment. The whole idea of who stood on the very same spot hundreds of years ago, maybe even sat in the antique chair in the corner, is fascinating. Touring the Palazzo Malipiero, the private palace situated on the Grand Canal in Venice was a once in a lifetime experience. The Countess graciously opened her home and led our tour with the assistance of Cristina Gregorin of Slow-Venice. Historical Significance
Originally named Ca’ Grande of St. Samuel the Palazzo is believed to been originally built at the beginning of the 11th century. In the 15th century as a result of a marriage with the original family, the industrious and successful Cappello family became the owners and stewards of the Palace. With their prosperity, they were in the printing business which in the 1500’s Venice was the world leader in printing, they enhanced the palace and modified the side facing the Grand Canal. Around 1610 Caterino Malipiero married Elisabetta Cappello and thus began the Malipiero family ownership. The Malipieros undertook restorations over the decades to maintain the historical integrity of the home. The Barnabo family, who acquired the palace in the 20th century, undertook their latest serious restoration in 1951 and maintenance restorations thereafter. The palace has withstood the tumultuous highs and lows of Venetian history, oh if walls could talk.
Casanova Slept Here
During the mid to late 1700’s, also the age of decadence, Giacomo Casanova, the celebrated “womanizer”, began his successful social life in these rooms. Timeless Style
Upon entering the Palazzo it is as if time stood still. Beautiful museum quality antiques serve as daily furnishings. It would seem as if what came with the house stayed with the house, starting with the 16th century portraits on the wall. These aren’t framed portraits but rather the portrait canvas was applied to the wall and either linear applied moldings or plaster which looks more like cake frosting was applied by hand centuries ago. This plaster detail is amazing. There is a large hump, a repaired crack in the second story terrazzo floor, running through the center of the room of the salon pictured above. The Countess explained how as much as things get repaired or restored, Venice is an island, and the ground is always shifting. (Also the reason almost every tower one views in Venice reminds them of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.) Exquisite Venetian glass chandeliers, now electrified, sparkle in most rooms. This wonderful old Venetian Rococo Sedan Chair was once used to transport an early inhabitant of the palazzo. Ornate gilt and polychrome carved embellishments are a nod to the decadent years. Countess Anna Barnabo displayed great pleasure speaking about her home but even more so when she pointed to her pair of antique Meissen porcelain Nodders. Full sets of antique Meissen porcelain tableware fill the 10 ft tall antique china cabinets lining the dining room walls. The Palazzo Capello Malipiero Barnabò represents three styles of architecture: Byzantine, Gothic and 17h century. If you love old homes and the history they hold dear, this is a MUST-SEE destination. Gardens
A private garden is rare in Venice. As one building is often attached to another in this historic city with a rather small footprint, private open space is an extraordinary luxury. The Palazzo’s gardens were created in the late 18th century. The layout we see today, including the statuary, is much the same as the original layout and tended personally by Countess Anna Barnabo. This hand painted detail is on the wall inside the palazzo’s main entrance, but only as a minute detail… as the faux back of a bench. The seat is wood, the back is only painted on the wall.
Every detail while not shiny and new, is something to appreciate. To walk through such living history was quite a treat. Anyone who loves history and architecture, this is for you. As a final note, it is well worth booking Cristina of Slow-Venice as your tour guide for at least a half a day if not a whole day in Venice. Cristina has the amazing ability to pull facts and details from her mind to relate about Venice and its’ history in a way which is never boring or dull.
Disclosure: The point of view expressed above is my own. Our trip to Venice and Milan with BlogTour Milan was possible by the generous sponsorship provided by the National Kitchen and Bath Association(NKBA), BLANCO American, Gessi Company, Clever Storage by Kesseboehmer, Dekton by Cosentino, and Modenus.