A route aimed at discovering the wonderful Venetian stately palaces located on the banks of the city's magical canals
(by Didier Descouens, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
Also, from Campo San Samuele, it is possible to observe two other magnificent buildings on the other side of the Grand Canal, the first of which is called Ca’ Rezzonico. The word “ca’” derivates from “casa”, meaning home, and it is an abbreviation that Venetians used to refer to houses or palaces, especially those belonging to noble families.
The palace was designed by architect Baldassarre Longhena in 1649 CE at the behest of the noble Bon family, but due to the financial difficulties of the patrons and Longhena’s death in 1682, the construction was abandoned. Only the noble facade toward the Grand Canal and a second floor covered with wooden beams remained.
Meanwhile, a family originally from the village of Rezzonico on Lake Como, the Della Torre-Rezzonico, had settled in Venice and gained admission to the patriciate in 1687.
One member of the Rezzonico family, Giambattista, bought the palace in 1751 and entrusted Giorgio Massari with its completion. To this construction phase dates the magnificent grand staircase of honour, the water staircase, the monumental atrium, the imposing ballroom, and the decoration of the facade on the Grand Canal. However, overall, Massari did not intervene in the original design, and the final appearance of the building had to turn out to be extremely faithful to that designed by Longhena.
The palace was finished just two years before Giambattista’s brother Carlo Rezzonico was elected pope under the name Clement XIII. The family died out in 1810, and from the fall of 1847 to 1848, it was the residence of Carlo Maria Isidoro of Bourbon-Spain, protected by the Austrian government. Ca’ Rezzonico then underwent several disposals, during which it was stripped of its furnishings. In 1888 it was purchased for 250,000 lire by Robert Barrett Browning, son of English writers Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In 1906 Robert Barrett Browning, ignoring an offer made to him by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, sold the palace to Count Lionello Hierschel de Minerbi, who sold it to the City of Venice in 1935.
Since 1936 it has become home to the Museo del Settecento Veneziano, which, in addition to reconstructions of rooms with furniture and furnishings of the period, houses important paintings by Canaletto, Francesco Guardi, Pietro Longhi, Tintoretto, and Tiepolo.
The main facade of the palace is distinguished by its size and monumentality. It is divided into three major horizontal bands: the ground floor, embellished with ashlar decorations and a three-hole water portal with a lintel, and two noble floors, characterised by columns and round-headed windows with heads in keys.
The floor plan of the palace features a large ballroom, which occupies two floors in height, and is connected to the first floor by a majestic monumental staircase. Apart from this extraordinary exception, the palace is organised according to a traditional plan with the typical Venetian “portego” (room serves as a passage room between the door on the water and the one on the land). On the first floor, it generally serves the function of an “androne” for loading and unloading goods, while on the noble floors, it is used both as a reception hall and as a pass-through room to access the other rooms.