Casanova was the perfect incarnation of 18th century Venice: a world of frivolity, dissolution, partying, gambling, banquets and daring escapades.
Giacomo Casanova was a philanderer, explorer, writer, mathematician, philosopher and a secret agent. His life was a heady mixture of luxury, adventures, love affairs and gambling, but also squalid prison cells, daring midnight escapes through ‘calli’ and canals, exile and endless adventures. Casanova’s house, garden and cafes can still be explored through special Casanova tours and museum.
Son of a widowed actress, Casanova was born in 1725 in the district of San Marco and was soon left to the care of his grandmother. Erotic poet Giorgio Baffo, an ardent admirer of Casanova’s mother, was the first to initiate him into the art of seduction. In addition to women, Casanova loved eating and drinking, banquets and ‘cicchetterie’ (wine bars where you can drink and sample local specialities).
According to legend, he used to meet his lovers in the Rialto district, where the old taverns he frequently visited still stand. Casanova’s life was filled with hundreds of women. One of the libertine’s most legendary affairs was with a woman who he refers to in his memoirs as M.M., a cloistered nun, perhaps a noblewoman of the Venetian aristocracy.
Casanova was renowned as a famous womanizer and as an inveterate gambler at Venice casino, but he was also a traveller and an adventurer, as well as one of the few people who escaped from Piombi, the terrifying prisons of Palazzo Ducale, where he had been imprisoned on charges of libertine behaviour, magic, freemasonry and public outrages. After enlisting the help of a fellow prisoner, they fled via the roofs, through a hole in the ceiling. The two of them then managed to exit the building after convincing a guard that they had been locked in the building the night before after an official function.