I have been researching the interesting history of Venice and the Veneto, and will be posting a few entries, mainly incorporating photos I’ve taken during visits there. (This one was taken 30 Oct. 2010.) The second building to the right of the yellow facade is the Ca’ Farsetti, a palazzo of historic importance.
Before 1200 the focus of life for most Venetians was the open campo outside each island compound’s church. However, as the city filled up, becoming one rather than many, the divisions between those compounds were blurred. The great open space of the Piazza San Marco became the city’s campo—a place for the citizens of a unified state to gather. In the same way, the Grand Canal became its central boulevard, filled with traffic of all kinds. Where the palaces of rich Venetians had previously faced their local campi, they now turned toward the Grand Canal. The wealthiest Venetians jostled for position along the waterway, each attempting to outdo the other in grandeur. The oldest surviving such palazzo is the Ca’ Farsetti, built by Ranieri Dandolo, the son of Doge Enrico Dandolo. This impressive Gothic structure near the Rialto Bridge is today used as Venice’s city hall…. Unlike family palaces in other Italian cities, the Venetian structures remained unfortified—a feature that speaks volumes about the lack of factionalism and lawlessness in the Republic of Venice.
—Thomas F. Madden, Venice: A New History
Ca’ Farsetti Dandolo, built circa 1200–06 by the Dandolo … in the mid-fourteenth century … was owned by Doge Andrea Dandolo, a humanist and friend of Petrarch. It was severely damaged by fire in 1524. In 1670 it was bought by Anton Francesco Farsetti, who extensively altered the interior, adding a large rear extension, with a secon portego. In the centre, he built an imposing Baroque staircase…. The quay facade, virtually rebuilt in 1874, retains the appearance of a substantial palazzo-fontego of the thirteenth century.
—Richard J. Goy, Venice: An Architectural Guide
According to the Canal Grande de Venezia “catalogo illustrato,” in the late eighteenth century the palazzo became the property of Antonio Francesco, “a man of letters” who “cultivated the art of botany.” Beleagued by creditors, the unfortunate Francesco gradually sold off the palazzo’s fine library and many of its other assets before fleeing the city and dying “in complete misery in 1808, in distant Russia.” His widow turned the palazzo into a hotel, and in 1826 the city acquired it for its town hall headquarters
Weddings are often celebrated in the Ca’ Farsetti. In 2014 George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin were married there.