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  • Ca' Dario

    By Anthony Parente

    Palazzo Dario Venice Italy
    Palazzo Dario - David Nicholls
    The Palazzo Dario (also called Ca' Dario) on the bank of the Grand Canal within the sestiere (area) of Dorsoduro in Venice, Italy was built in 1479 by Giovanni Dario. Giovanni, secretary of the Venetian senate, was instrumental in striking a peace agreement with the Turks and was given the nickname "saviour of the homeland." The Republic gave Giovanni land, money and a noble title. In turn he built a palace, between the Palazzo Barbaro Wolkoff and the narrow Rio delle Torreselle, to give thanks to the city. An inscription on the facade reads "JOANNES DARIVS VRBIS GENIO" (To the genius of the city Giovanni Dario).

    The palace is admired for its architectural beauty, which is Venetian Gothic, and decorative features including the iconic inverted chimney caps. In 1908 Claude Monet made a number of impressionist paintings of the palace. The novelist Henry James described the palace as "covered with the loveliest little marble plates and sculptured circles ... a house of cards that hold together by a tenure it would be fatal to touch". Amidst all the beauty this palace hides a darkness that has plagued former owners. You may think it is a coincidence but there have been many mysterious and unusual deaths as well as financial ruins to former owners and people who spent time in the palace. Many call the Palazzo Dario "the house that kills" or "the cursed palace". Locals do not even want to pass by the palace and go out of their way to avoid it. Fisherman won't even cast their ropes near the building because they fear it is cursed.

    Following the death of Giovanni, which was of natural causes, the palace was inherited by his daughter Marietta who was married to Vincenzo Barbaro. Shortly after inheriting the house Vincenzo suffered economic hardship and was stabbed to death. Marietta ended up committing suicide by jumping into the Grand Canal. Their son suffered a violent death as he was killed by assassins while in Crete. The Palace remained in the Barbaro family until the 19th century when it was sold to Arbit Abdoll, a wealthy diamond merchant. Not long after the purchase he lost all his wealth and sold it to Rawdon Brown, an English historian. Rawdon suffered financial problems as well as a scandal surrounding his homosexual relationships. He mysteriously died inside the palace with his lover.

    French poet Henry De Règnier did not purchase the palace, but he did stay there for some time. When he returned to France he contracted a serious illness and did not return to Venice again. Wealthy American Charles Briggs purchased the palace. As rumors of his homosexuality surfaced he and his lover fled Venice for Mexico, where his lover committed suicide.

    The palace remained empty for decades until tenor Mario del Monaco wanted to purchase the property. On his way to Venice to finalize the purchase he was involved in a serious car accident. He decided to withdraw his offer to purchase the palace.

    Count Filippo Giordano delle Lanze from Turin purchased the palace in the 1970s. He was murdered inside his palace by his lover Raul Blasich, who fled to London only to be murdered. Kit Lambert, manager of the rock band "The Who", owned the palace for a number of years, but there have been stories that he stayed in a nearby hotel to escape the ghosts within the palace.

    Venetian businessman, Fabrizio Ferrari, purchased the palace in the 1980's and stayed there with his sister Nicoletta. Following the purchase Fabrizio fell into financial ruin while Nicoletta died in a mysterious car accident. The palace was later purchased by Raul Gardini as a gift for his daughter. Raul was involved in a financial scandal bankrupting him and led to his suicide.

    Director and actor Woody Allen had an interest in purchasing the palace, but once he learned of its haunted past decided against it. The palace is currently privately owned and closed to the public. On occasion it is open for special art exhibitions from the Peggy Guggenheim museum.

    As you can see this palace has a long history of mysterious events that have occurred over the centuries. It is up to you to decide if this place is truly cursed or just a series of stories or urban legends that add to the many mysteries surrounding the city of Venice.


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