In Casanova's Footsteps
Walk #1 begins in Campo San Polo and winds through this district, towards the church of the Frari, into the Santa Croce district, and ends by the fish market, the Pescaria, ready to cross the Grand Canal at the Santa Sofia traghetto. The nine sites range from the place where Casanova saved the life of a senator to the place where he and his buddies "pleasured" a wife during the Carnevale season. This chapter ends with historical sidebars about Carnevale, Venetian theaters and opera, the sestieri or districts of Venice, and an explanation of the traghetti, the gondolas for crossing the Grand Canal.
Read a sample of Walk #1 by clicking here.
After crossing on the traghetto, Walk #2 leads the reader down the Strada Nova to the western reaches of Cannaregio and the Ghetto. Casanova's adventures then bring you to the Fondamenta della Misericordia, back down to the church where Casanova met his fourteen-year-old lover's mother to deliver messages, and finally to Campo Santi Apostoli. These ten locations are spread over a larger area and lead readers to some little-known and little-seen areas of Venice. Since these sites cover a myriad of historical topics, sidebars include condoms, convents, gondolas and gondoliers, the ridotti (gambling houses) and casini (small pleasure apartments), and eighteenth century porn.
Beginning where Walk #2 left off, Walk #3 saunters through a fairly small area of central Cannaregio, visiting eight sites. These locations include many places relating to Casanova's two lovers who were nuns, women he identified by their initials M.M. and C.C. You'll also visit the place where adolescent Casanova was ignominiously dumped after being kicked out of the seminary and where he attempted to stab a supposed spy. Walk #3 ends gazing at Murano and San Michele, islands where Casanova had other adventures but where the sites so longer exist. The final sidebar on masks and costumes help to illuminate the story about Casanova's costumed romp at a Murano convent.
Walk #4 covers the most ground of all the walks, starting from Fondamente Nove and heading east into Castello, down the western side of the Arsenale, through the Arsenale to the gardens at the farthest back edge, and down Via Garibaldi towards the Giardini Pubblici. Eleven sites relate to a variety of adventures. Casanova visited one convent to hear the scoop on his new mistress, and he visited another monastery to meet the abate who was to become his mentor. You'll go from the place where Casanova met his lover who dressed as a man to avoid recognition, to the neighborhood garden where he brought a young lover, sister to the pregnant girl he had given to his friend. Wear good walking shoes for this one, and prepare to laugh at the adventures and schemes.
To begin Walk #5, you can walk or take the vaporetto from the Giardini Pubblici north to Campo Santa Maria Formosa, then west through Campo Santa Marina and past the former Marco Polo house, now the Teatro Malibran. The walk ends near the Rialto Bridge at a place where Casanova was spied upon. You'll see the palazzo that was one of Casanova's main homes, where he lived as the virtually-adopted son to Senator Bragadin. Other sites include various casini--the pleasure apartments of Casanova's wealthy friends--as well as rented rooms he took in the same building as a famous courtesan. Historical sidebars explain the lifestyle of these courtesans, and other additions include a description of Casanova's use of magic and the cabala, as well as the drinking establishments of the era.
Now we head into real Casanova territory--his very origins. Walk #6 winds through the western reaches of the San Marco district, from Campo San Bartolomeo towards Campo Sant'Angelo, where Casanova pulled pranks as a teen, to Campo San Samuele. Here he was baptized and preached his first sermon, and nearby are his birthplace, childhood home, and grandmother's home. You'll pass the house where Casanova lost his virginity to two sisters, and you'll see the grand palazzo of one of his early patrons, Senator Malipiero. Towards the end of this walk, you even pass the home where Casanova conceived his daughter with Teresa Imer. Walk #6 contains twenty-two Casanova-related sites, the most of any of these walks. One sidebar ends the chapter, explaining the money of the times--appropriate since on this walk you'll read about how he was accused of "clipping" a coin.
Finally, Walk #7 bring us across the sestiere of San Marco, through the Piazza, and on to the prisons, where Casanova made his famous escape. You'll follow the course of the Liston, the promenade enjoyed by fashionistas and nobles, from Campo Santo Stefano to sites in Campo San Maurizio, with detours to visit more casini, including the former location of Casanova's opulent one, and the best-know ridotto, now the Hotel Monaco. Well-known locations such as the Piazza San Marco and Doge's Palace also have Casanova stories to tell, which you'll read peppered with quotes from his memoirs. Twenty sites bring you to the end of your journey, at the place where Casanova himself left his beloved city.