Ca Dario’s cursed beauty

Ca' Dario - MonetA decrepit old courtesan bent under the pomp of her jewelry“. That’s how Gabriele D’Annunzio described Ca Dario, cursed palace in Venice. Yet the facade of this building which is located on the Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro district, is one of the earliest and most elegant expressions of the Venetian Renaissance.

Ca Dario is in fact often described as one of the most characteristic buildings of Venice and it is often compared to Ca d’Oro. Its strange beauty also struck Ruskin, who described the marble decorations of its façade in detail. The rear, painted in red, overlooks Campiello Barbaro. In 1908 Claude Monet used Ca Dario as a subject for a series of paintings: all with the same perspective, but with different lights. One of the last restoration and furnishing was looked after by Giorgio Pes in 1977, the interior designer of the film “The Leopard”.

Visibly tilted due to a settling of the foundation, the building has an asymmetrical façade of Istrian stone, richly decorated with polychrome marbles arranged in circular medallions.

The chimneys, in a typical Venetian style, are among the few original copies of the time that have made it to our days, while the neo-Gothic balcony was added in the nineteenth century.

At the base of the building is the inscription VRBIS GENIUS IOANNES DARIVS (Giovanni Dario protector of the city). The building was in fact commissioned in 1479 to the architect Pietro Lombardo Giovanni Dario, secretary of the Republic of Venice Senate, as a dowry for his daughter, betrothed to Vincenzo Barbaro, a wealthy spice merchant.

Ca Dario’s architectural beauty contrasts with its reputation as a cursed building, linked to the tragic fate of many of its owners, affected by financial troubles and violent deaths, starting right from Giovanni Dario. His daughter Marietta, in fact, took her own life after the economic ruin of her husband, who in turn died stabbed.

Also dramatic was the end of the son, Vincenzo, who was killed in an ambush in Heraklion, Crete.

These three deaths made quite a stir among the Venetians, who anagrammed the inscription on the façade, transforming it into SVB RVINA INSIDIOSA GENERO (I generate insidious ruin).

The building was later acquired by Arbit Ardoll, a rich Armenian diamond merchant who, after a few months,  found himself on the streets.

But it is in the nineteenth century that the bad reputation of the building began to take shape in an ever more marked way: the English scholar who bought the building, Radon Brown, then lost all his possessions and committed suicide in 1842 in the palace along with his fellow, probably because of the scandal caused by their bond. Then it was then Charles Briggs’s turn, a wealthy American who fled Italy because of his homosexual relationship and took refuge in Mexico, where his lover took his own life.

Between 1899 and 1901 the French poet Henry De Regnier lived in the Palace as a guest, until, due to a serious illness, he was forced to interrupt his stay in Venice.

Ca' Dario - Interni

Ca Dario was abandoned for a long time, until in 1964 tenor Mario del Monaco became interested in it, but then let it go when, while travelling to Venice to conclude the negotiations, he was the victim of a terrible accident.

In the early seventies, the building was purchased by Count Filippo Giordano delle Lanze, then killed by his lover, a Croatian sailor named Raul Blasich. The boy fled to London, but he also died assassinated.

The property then passed to Christopher “Kit” Lambert, manager of the rock band “The Who”, who died shortly afterwards in London, falling down the stairs.

Later a Venetian businessman bought Ca Dario; he suffered a heavy financial meltdown and saw the death of his sister, who lived in the building, in a tragic car accident.

The latest distinguished victim happened twenty years ago. It was Raul Gardini, who wanted to give it as a present to his daughter.

Gardini, after a series of economic downturns and the involvement in the Tangentopoli scandal, died July 23, 1993, in obscure circumstances.

At the end of the nineties Woody Allen seemed interested in buying it, but after a series of negative events in his emotional life, let it go.

In 2002, a week after renting Ca Dario for a holiday, bassist John Entwistle died of a heart attack.

Various assumptions have been made about the curse that accompanies this house.

Some argue that the building was built on a cemetery of the Templars. Others that Ca Dario is influenced by the talisman which is on the water gate of the building next door.

Many things have been said, for example that Ca Dario is still inhabited by the ghosts of its owners.
The Venetians believe these cursed stories and keep away from the building.

The ones that have been there say that they felt a strange sense of unease at entering, or even just by looking at it from the outside…


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Ca' Dario

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