Ca Dario the Curse–Is it Really?

The Beautiful Palazzetto Dario

Ca ‘Dario is a palace in Venice, located at number 353 in the Sestiere Dorsoduro, which directly overlooks the Grand Canal. The building is sadly famous for the alleged curse on its owners. According to legend, in fact, its owners would be destined to bankrupt or die a violent death.


The building was commissioned to the architect Pietro Lombardo in 1479 by Giovanni Dario as a wedding gift for his daughter Marietta, betrothed to Vincenzo Barbaro, a wealthy spice merchant. Giovanni Dario, carried out important tasks for the Republic of Venice; he was a merchant, notary of the ducal chancery, ducal secretary and earned the title of savior of the homeland after when he managed to negotiate a peace agreement with the Turks. 

That is why Giovanni Dario had the words “Urbis Genio Ioannes Darius” on the facade of the Palazzo; it means “Giovanni Dario to the genius of the city.” It is practically a ‘Thank You’ note to the city of Venice. 

In 1494, at the death of Giovanni Dario, the palace was inherited by his daughter Marietta and her husband Vincenzo Barbaro. The Barbaro family remained in possession of the palace until the beginning of the nineteenth century. 

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John Ruskin drawing with the marble decorations in great detail.

Ca ‘Dario is often described as one of the most characteristic palaces of Venice, often compared to the renown Ca’ d’Oro. His strange beauty struck the interest of John Ruskin, who described its marble decorations in great detail. 


In 1908 Claude Monet used Ca ‘Dario as the subject for a series of paintings typically impressionists all from the same perspective, but with different lighting conditions. 

The Alleged Curse

Ca ‘Dario gained fame as a cursed palace, allegedly because of the tragic destiny that has united many of its owners. According to a presumed curse on the house, in fact, the owners of Ca ‘Dario would be destined to end up bankrupt or die of violent death. 

Let’s See

1. According to sources (Wikipedia) Marietta, the daughter of Giovanni Dario, committed suicide following the financial collapse of her husband Vincenzo Barbaro, who died stabbed. 

NOT true. Marietta and her husband acquired the palace. Of them there are no particular news until 1514, when Marietta, born in 1475 and mother of three children (Gasparo 1496-1514, Giacomo 1501-1542 and Giovanni 1502-1582) died of natural causes at 39, a common age at the time.

2. Tragic also for their son Giacomo, who died in an ambush in Crete. 

NOT true! The sons of Marietta, Giacomo and Giovanni, took possession of Ca ‘Dario in 1522, and used it for personal purposes until the death of Giovanni who, like his grandfather, died at the respectable age of 80 years. After Giovanni, the Barbaro family were happy owners of the splendid palace until 1659, without crimes or mysteries to tell. Besides Giacomo Barbaro was not the son, but a descendant of Marietta, who died in battle like it happened to many.

3. The first non-family buyer of Ca ‘Dario was Arbit Abdoll, on a date not specified at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Legend has it that the Armenian merchant died in misery, but historical reality does not report anything of this. Although there is no evidence of the wealth of Abdoll after the purchase of the building, there are none to support an alleged fall into disgrace of Abdoll, who did not die in the palace anyway. Abdoll sold Ca ‘Dario for £ 480 in 1837 to Rawdon Brown.

4. Rawdon Brown completely restructured Ca Dario.

He was not disgraced but in financial constraints because of the costly restructuring, but was so shrewd to sell it to a Hungarian count in 1842, probably making a substantial gain compared to the amount initially paid. The English historian, who lived his entire life in Venice, did not die violently but peacefully, at Palazzo Gussoni-Grimani della Vida on 25 August 1883.

5. We then have a series of owners. Eventually it was owned by Countess Isabelle de La Baume-Pluvinel, a Venetian jet-setter of the early ‘900, she hosted numerous French and Venetian artists among which stands Henri de Régnier and Claude Monet.

The countess died of natural death on 7 February 1911, and also Monet or de Régnier, tied to the house, did not suffer particular consequences.

6. Next; The American multimillionaire Charles Briggs was banned from Italy as “persona non grata” because his homosexual affairs (those were though years 🙂

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Recent Times

Briggs, forcibly unable to use the palace, sold it in 1968 to Count Filippo Giordano delle Lanze, who really does have a bad end. On July 19, 1970, Raoul Blasich kills the Count, who is found with his head smashed in bed by the maid. The count, at the age of forty-six, had been killed by one of the lovers because he had asked for his benefits, denied by the rich landowner (too bad the police could not ban Giordano as well as “persona non grata.  🙂

Meanwhile, Palazzo Dario is bought by Christopher Sebastian Lambert (1935-1981), manager of the famous rock group “The Who“, who holds the building for a few years. As was normal during the 1970s, Lambert used to make use and abuse of drugs, but he did not fall into disgrace or be killed in Venice. In fact, Lambert sold the building in 1978 to Fabrizio Ferrari, owner of “Nuova Bavaria Assicurazioni“. Lambert died by falling from the stairs at his grandma’s home in England.

Ferrari sold the building to Raul Gardini, a businessman from Ravenna, in 1985. And here comes the “curse’ again. The entrepreneur was the owner until 1993, because of the “Mani Pulite” investigation and the financial crash that upset the family businesses and the entire city of Ravenna, Mr. Gardini committed suicide, but not at Ca Dario, instead in Milan.

During its nearly 6 centuries of history, only one owner was killed inside the palace on dozens and dozens of legitimate heirs or buyers who lived there. Calling Ca dario “Palazzo Maledetto di Venezia” [cursed palazzo] is definitely a name that the beautiful building does not deserve.

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I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

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