Venice and Casanova

Venice and Casanova
21 March 2017 0 Comment

To know something about Casanova is to better understand a man of sweeping talents living at a time when Europe was the center of the universe!

A grand stage upon which strutted Bach, Ben Franklin, Gainsborough, Goethe, Samuel Johnson, Immanuel Kant, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Swift and Voltaire, (making our modern day cultural icons look flimsy indeed!) All of them Gods and then there was Casanova. Born in Venice on April 2nd, 1725, his life became a whirlwind, roller-coaster ride of the life of a soldier, a spy, a diplomat, an avid writer and adventurer, whose reputation as the most famous of erotic hero’s is largely due to his own autobiography!

The man was a scoundrel; ahh but what a scoundrel. Blessed with the gift of survival and living to the good age of 73, Casanova left us with a literary legacy that would later influence Jules Verne and Lewis Carroll. Born to an actor father and a mother whose perfect beauty marked the man forever; strong women dominated his life but it would be unfair to think he never experience love. His greatest love, the mysterious Frenchwoman, Henriette held him awestruck. “People who believe that a woman is not enough to make a man equally happy all the twenty-four hours a day have never known a Henriette.” At the age of 24 he drank from the cup of love and tasted its bitter sweet flavor when his French beauty left him. Love had become for him an incurable illness and divine monster. Love as that elusive and celestial gift of God, was to be his muse and inspiration for the remainder of his life. By 1750 our rascal had worked as a clergyman, secretary, soldier and violinist in several countries.

Tried by that fine, upstanding body of men representing the Inquisition, Casanova’s freedom ended in 1755, for a year. He was arrested, his books, manuscripts, works on magic, his rather colorful treatises on the art of love (a guaranteed best seller!) were seized. He was denounced as a magician and sentenced to five years in lead chambers under the roof of the Doge’s Palace in Venice. His sense of survival endured and after one year he escaped. He viewed his stunning Venice before fleeing to Paris and wrote, “I then turned and looked at the entire length of the beautiful Grand Canal and seeing not a single boat, admired the most beautiful day one could hope for, the first rays of a magnificent sun rising above the horizon.”  – (Ruskin eat your heart out!)

As a talented gambler he introduced the lottery to France in 1757 which made him a millionaire; albeit short lived. In 1760 he fled from his creditors and traveled across Europe spending time in Naples, England, Germany and Spain. Between 1774 and 1782 he slept with the enemy, employed as a spy, for which he had no stomach, working for the Venetian inquisitors of state. This man had friends wherever he went. In 1787 Casanova met Mozart in Prague and attended the first performance of the opera Don Giovanni. During his last years the toothless Casanova concentrated on his memoirs, “to keep from going mad or dying of grief.” Casanova died on June 4, 1798. His last words reputed as being, “I have lived as a philosopher and die as a Christian.”

Let Perfect Traveller guide you through one of the most positive and exciting periods in European history and meet a man that will make you smile and laugh out aloud. A man who lived his life to the fullest, who toyed with the truth of his own life to entertain and liberate us from our daily chores! Whose zest for living was infectious – who laughed in the face of danger and kept on bouncing back perhaps a little too so at times but certainly unforgettable! What other city but Venice could have given birth to such a man.

Peter Kilby
About the Author

Peter Kilby is an artist, writer, story-teller, journalist and avid traveller who has lived and worked in Italy since 1987. He created Perfect Traveller to bring the world of art and history closer to you. Download the “free” Perfect Traveller app and enjoy the best audio tours available; about Italy today and yesterday. Sign Up to this website and submit your travel stories and become part of the Perfect Traveller community.

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