Celebrating the best of Venetian decorative arts, Inside Venice offers us a private view of the city’s most beautiful and rarely seen architectural and interior design jewels. Written by Toto Bergamo Rossi, the director of the Venetian Heritage Foundation, the book transports us to seventy-two mostly private apartments and palazzos, beautifully photographed by Jean-François Jaussaud.
In each chapter we travel vicariously to one of Venice’s seven neighborhoods. The quarter known as San Polo contains both the large public square, Campo San Polo, second only in size to Piazza San Marco, and the Rialto, one of the oldest and most characteristic areas in Venice. The Corner family also has ancient roots and in the 16th century built some of Venice’s most ambitious residences including Palazzo Corner, now the residence of architect, designer and operatic director Pier Luigi Pizzi. A total renovation of the palazzo resulted in the best of old and new. While the main floor features 17th century paintings and sumptuous furnishings,
the entrance hall and former storerooms on the ground floor are a modern open space dedicated to the study of architecture and stage design.
Between the Grand Canal and the Canale della Giudecca is the Dorsoduro sestiere (district). Here Longhena’s famed Basilica della Salute with its domed octagonal design and the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, housing the Peggy Guggenheim collection, reside. It is also home to a 19th century Russian residence built by Prince Dolgorouky. Now the residence of refined expats, the interiors have a chic eclectic flair.
Also in the Dorsoduro are 15th century twin palazzi, originally built to house two branches of the same family. One was purchased by the Brandolini family in 1876 and completely renovated in the late 19th century. More recently restored and decorated by Brando and Cristiana Brandolini d’Adda with the help of Renzo Mongiardino, it is now home to Paolo and Aud Cuniberti, who have added their collection of modern art to the mix.
Besides private residences, Inside Venice also includes several distinguished public spaces. The Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music is located in the historic Palazzo Pisani in the neighborhood of San Marco. Now housing one of the most important libraries of Italian music, the Pisani library once contained a famous collection of masterpieces including works by Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto. In the 19th century, the library was sold as well as parts of the palazzo. Ceilings by Pellegrini ended up at the Vanderbilt’s Marble House in Newport and the ballroom was dismantled and moved to the Biltmore House in North Carolina. The Venice government finally stepped in and gradually purchased the property, assigning it to the conservatory in 1940. Below, the splendid loggia, an architectural whimsy that separates the palazzo’s courtyard’s.
Also in San Marco is the Palazzo Grassi and Teatrino, the last grand private building to be built before the fall of the Republic at the very end of the 18th century. After changing hands many times over the next 150+ years, it was finally bought by French luxury goods magnate and art collector François Pinault in 2005. Now the headquarters for his contemporary art foundation, the building was sensitively renovated by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. You may remember the landmark installation there by artist Rudolf Stingel.
As Diane von Furstenberg and Peter Marino state in their foreword, “Venice belongs not just to Italy but to the whole world.” And with Inside Venice you get an insiders view of the best of Venetian decorative arts through its architecture and interiors.