Monday, 8 November 2021

Back in Venice, staying
on the Grand Canal in
the home of an artist

The Hotel San Cassiano in the Santa Croce district of Venice faces onto the Grand Canal (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

I am in Venice for five days this week, celebrating some important family birthdays and anniversaries. I arrived in Treviso this afternoon on an early-morning Ryanair flight from Dublin and I am staying in an hotel with a view of the Grand Canal.

I have visited Italy more than a dozen time, and this is, perhaps, my fourth or fifth visit to Venice. I was last here three years ago, in November 2018.

Hotel San Cassiano is a 4-star hotel in the heart of Venice. It is housed in the Ca’ Favretto, home of the famous 19th-century painter Giacomo Favretto, and the hotel has 36 rooms, some with a breathtaking view of the Grand Canal.

Hotel San Cassiano is in the Santa Croce district, just a few minutes’ walk from the Rialto Bridge and market, from the Erbaria area on the San Polo side of the Rialto Bridge, with three squares which a choice of bacari (wine bars) and cicchetti (traditional Venetian snacks), and from Merceria, a shopping street that connects Rialto to Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica.

It is also close to the San Stae stop on the ACTV line 1 vaporetto, just a five-minute walk from the landing stage.

The hotel is an authentic historic 14th century residence that displays all the charm and fascination of Venice, with Venetian-style furnishings, Murano chandeliers and an interesting collection of paintings and antiques.

A work by Giacomo Favretto in the hotel reception area (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Giacomo Favretto (1849-1887), one of the great Venetian painters of the 19th century, lived in the Ca’ Favretto, which now houses the Hotel San Cassiano. He moved from the carpenter’s workshop of his father in 1864 to enrol in the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. There he studied under Pompeo Marino Molmenti, and he also studied in Paris.

He soon developed an independent style inspired by the younger artists of Venice such as Domenico Morelli. His subjects were taken from everyday life, such as ordinary people at work and play rather than mythological or historical figures.

He presented works at the Fine Arts Exposition of the Brera Academy in Milan in 1873, when his painting sattracted the attention of Camillo Boito. He travelled to Paris with Guglielmo Ciardi in 1878 to take part in the Universal Exhibition. Although he had lost his sight in one eye by the age of 30, he once again presented work at the Brera in 1880, winning the Prince Umberto Prize.

He took part in the Esposizione Nazionale di Belle Arti in Turin that year with works featuring everyday life in Venice and scenes in 18th-century costume.

Favretto died in Venice on 12 June 1887. That year, confirmation of his success came at the Esposizione Nazionale Artistica in Venice, where the works presented included Liston Odierno or Promenade Today in Venice 1884), now in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome.

Breakfast tomorrow morning is a continental and international breakfast buffet served in the dining hall with a terrace facing the Grand Canal. Join me for the rest of the week, as I explore Venice, the lagoon and the islands once again.

The Grand Canal seen from the Hotel San Cassiano in the Santa Croce district of Venice (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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