Venetian noble palaces
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A route aimed at discovering the wonderful Venetian stately palaces located on the banks of the city's magical canals

Palazzetto Stern
(by Didier Descouens, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(by Didier Descouens, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

The second palace observable on the other side of the Grand Canal is Palazzetto Stern. 

The building has very ancient origins: in fact, the original two-story Venetian-Byzantine structure was built in the early 15th century, commissioned by the Michièl “Malpaga” family (so called because Fantino Michièl in 1425 had a palace built near Dubrovnik with unpaid convict labourers).  

After suffering serious deterioration over the centuries, in the early twentieth century it was purchased by the Stern family, who decided to restore and complete the structure. Thus, between 1909 and 1912, Ernesta de Hierschel Stern (1854-1926), an aunt of Lionello Hierschel de Minerbi who was the owner of Ca’ Rezzonico from 1906 to 1935, commissioned architect Giuseppe Berti and decorator Raffaele Mainella to complete the project. From then on, the building preserved its current appearance and was named after Ernesta’s husband, the French banker Louis Stern (1840-1900). The two artists used ancient materials for a reconstruction that expanded the existing building. From a private residence, the palace has been converted today into a luxury hotel after careful restoration.

Palazzetto Stern is an elegant example of neo-Gothic architecture, which fits in with the poetics that governed the construction of buildings in those years, such as Casa Dei Tre Oci (by Mario de Maria) and Villa Herriot (by Raffaele Mainella himself). 

Externally, the palace is a reinterpretation of Venetian Gothic, mediated by the avant-gardes that were imposing themselves in the early 20th century, also brought to Venice by Stern, who was active in the world of art collecting. 

In the reconstruction project, the most significant importance was given to the facade of the Grand Canal, which is asymmetrical in its parts. The ground floor opens onto a terrace with a canal view and a neo-Gothic balustrade. The two noble floors follow a common layout, with a “trifora” (three-light window) on the left and a “bifora” (two-light window) on the right. The variation is in the centre, where on the second floor, there is a single lancet window (single-opening window), and on the second, another mullioned window with a balustraded terrace. In several places on this facade are inserted panels and bas-reliefs, one of which, larger than the others, represents St. George and the dragon.

The right façade of the Palazzetto is also very special because, in addition to extending over the Grand Canal with a short brick wall, it is characterised by an original second-floor window, large in size and culminating on the roof in a dormer structure (open to the roof).


1. Palazzo Grassi

2. Ca’ Rezzonico

3. Palazzetto Stern

4. Palazzo Fortuny (Ca’ Pesaro)

5. Cà Loredan

6. Cà d’oro