Palazzo Dario – A Strange Curse. The fate that has allegedly followed most of its owners and even some that have stayed there; is attributed to a curse; that is in contradiction with beauty of the palace.
This 500-year-old palace also known as Ca’ Dario, has over the centuries said to have claimed a host of unlucky victims; including the rich and famous. The perpetuated story goes that the people who owned the building or stayed there for more than 20 days died, committed murder, or became bankrupt. Even local fisherman avoided casting their ropes by the cursed palazzo, which has been locally dubbed “the house that kills.”
The Palazzo Dario, is located on the Grand Canal, in the district of Dorsoduro. Situated towards the southern end of the canal, it is close to the Guggenheim Museum and positioned between the Palazzo Barbaro Wolkoff and the narrow Rio delle Torreselle.
Palazzo Dario can be viewed from across the Grand Canal opposite the vaporetto stop “S. Maria del Giglio”. Alternatively, you can view the back of the building from the garden of Peggy Guggenheim Museum.
The palace is greatly admired for its beautiful architectural and decorative features and its iconic “inverted cone” shaped Chimney pots.
The palace was built in the Venetian Gothic style and the facade later renovated in Renaissance style, with beautiful circular medallions and marbles.
It is reputed to be built over an ancient Templar cemetery and due to a settling of the foundation, is visibly slightly tilted to the right.
The palace was remodelled after 1486, said to be by a follower of Pietro Lombardo, for the patrician Giovanni Dario; Secretary to the Venetian Senate, diplomat, and merchant.
At the base of the building is the inscription: VRBIS GENIUS JOHN DARIUS (John [Giovanni] Dario patron of the city), relating to the fact that in 1479, he managed to negotiate a peace with the Turks.
After Dario’s death in 1494, it passed to his daughter, Marietta, who was married to Vincenzo Barbaro, the son of Giacomo Barbaro and owner of the neighbouring Palazzo Barbaro-Wolkoff. Marietta’s sons received possession of the house in 1522; before that time the Senate rented it on occasion as a residence for Turkish diplomats.
At the rear of Palazzo Dario can be seen from a small square shaded by trees, the Campiello Barbaro; named in honour of the patrician Barbaro family who lived there.
The English art critic John Ruskin, was particularly entranced with and wrote about the palace’s Gothic marble-encrusted oculi. The rear facade of the palace on the Campiello Barbaro has Gothic arches of the fifth order.
A large project of renovation was undertaken at the end of the 19th C, when the palace belonged to the Countess de la Baume-Pluvinel; a French aristocrat and writer using the name “Laurent Evrard”.
The Countess was responsible for the staircase, the external chimneys, the majolica stoves, and the fine carvings (vaguely reminiscent of the Scuola di San Rocco) in the dining room on the second piano nobile, looking down to the garden, as well as a great deal of stabilisation and replacement of marble on the facade.
She surrounded herself with French and Venetian writers, one of whom, Henri de Régnier — is commemorated by an inscription on the garden wall. It reads “In questa casa antica dei Dario, Henri de Regnier – poeta di Francia – venezianamente visse e scrisse – anni 1899-1901”.
In 1908 Claude Monet use the building as a subject for a series of impressionist paintings. Ca Dario is often described as a “characteristic Venetian palace “, often compared to the Ca d’Oro.
Ca Dario palace caught the attention of John Ruskin who described the decorations in his famous “The Stones of Venice”. D’Anunzio also describes it as: “crooked as a courtesan bent under the pump of his jewelry.”
The building in 2015 is private and not normally open to the public. However, an agreement between the current owner and the Venetian art museum, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, makes it available for special art exhibitions.
FASCINATING STORY OF PALAZZO DARIO: THE STRANGE CURSE
The house was built in 1479 for aristocrat Giovanni Dario. His daughter Marietta and her husband Vincenzo later inherited the house. Vincenzo was stabbed to death and Marietta died by suicide in the Grand Canal not long after. Shortly after these tragedies, their son Vincenzo Jr.,was killed in Crete by assassins.
The cursed house claimed another victim when British scientist Radon Brown became its owner. After having the house for only four years, he suffered financial difficulties and his romantic relationship with another man was discovered. The scandal affected him so much that in 1842 he died by suicide in the palace with his partner (some speculate that the deaths were a murder-suicide).
Charles Briggs, an American millionaire, met a similar end. After purchasing the palazzo, he was accused of being gay and fled to Mexico, where his lover died by suicide.
The property then remained empty for the first half of the 20th century. In 1964, the world-famous operatic tenor Mario del Monaco entered negotiations to buy the property. However, on his way to Venice to sign the contract, he was involved in a serious car accident, that made him rethink his decision to buy the building.
Then in the 1970’s, the Count of Turin, Filippo Giordano delle Lanze bought Palazzo Dario and was murdered by his lover Raul Blasich; who later died a violent death after fleeing to London.
Kit Lambert, who managed “The Who” bought the palace; but it is said he used to stay in a hotel nearby, to escape the many ghosts he claimed infested the house.
In the ‘80’s, Venetian businessman Fabrizio Ferrari bought the house and moved there with his sister Nicoletta. He later lost all his assets and his sister died in a car crash.
Later that same decade, the financier Raul Gardini bought the place, aiming to give it to his daughter. But after a series of economic setbacks and scandal, he died by suicide in 1993.
At the turn of the 21st century, Woody Allen considered buying Palazzo Dario, but changed his mind, allegedly after reading about all the strange and tragic deaths connected to the house.
As recently as 2002, The Who’s original bass player John Entwistle, suffered a heart attack a week after renting the palace.
Presently it is owned by an American company………….no word yet of any misfortunes!
Some locals still believe that the basis for the curse, may originate from the fact that the building was constructed over an old Templar cemetery.
The is no doubt that whether you believe these stories or not, Palazzo Dario is a beautiful palace worth admiring……but perhaps from a distance!
Please click the links below to see my other related posts.
The Grand Canal of Venice
The Grand Canal and its Four Bridges
Venetian Palace Architectural Styles
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