Palazzo Mocenigo is located in the Santa Croce Sestiere, Venice, and hosts the Mocenigo Museum. Mocenigo is the name of a noble and prominent Venetian family, who lived here until 1945. Their last member left it to Venice making sure for it to become a museum. Since 1980s it hosts the Study Centre for the History of Textiles and Costumes and since 2013 it was renovated to accommodate 5 new rooms dedicated to the history of perfume in Venice.
Palazzo Mocenigo – my experience
After entering you must climb the stairs to reach the so called “piano nobile” (noble floor), where once lived the family. There you can follow a tour through 20 rooms:
The Portego. It is called Portico but it is actually a reception hall. The main paintings on the walls represent members of the Mocenigo family along with the sovereigns they served (as ambassadors). Above the doors you can see portraits of the 7 Mocenigo Doges.
Past the monumental white portal, the tour of the rooms begins. You can quietly walk from room to room admiring exquisite tapestries, different paintings (mainly regarding family delegations, family members but there are also religious or mythological scenes), eighteenth-century varnished furniture, Murano glass objects, wooden or frescoed ceilings and sparkling chandeliers. Some of the displayed objects are original of the Palace, others were brought here form the collections of Correr Museum or Ca’ Rezzonico. If you want to learn more about it, you can read my post regarding Ca’ Rezzonico.
In room 5 there’s a painting representing a naval battle between corsairs and Venetians guided by Zaccaria Mocenigo. He chose to set his vessel on fire and die rather than fall into enemies hands.
In room 8 you can see some 18th century suits and gowns, embellished by refined floral decorations.
In room 10 I liked very much the paintings by Antonio Stom, referring to the visit of Violante Beatrice di Baviera (wife of Ferdinando de’ Medici) in Venice, received by the Mocenigos. They are very fariy-tale like. And look at the details!
Room 11 displays many waistcoats and their exquisite embroidery works.
Starting from room 13 the exhibit is dedicated to perfume. I admit I’m not a perfume fan, I own a tiny bottle of Amor Amor by Cacharel (which I wear only from time to time) and a 1999 bottle of Lou Lou de Cacharel, which I’m religiously conserving cause Lou Lou is not for sale anymore. I know, many persons dislike it for its peculiar fragrance. But I love it. Besides it is also a memory to me, a memory of my adolescence. Yeah, I’m that nostalgic. Sigh. I wear a spray of it only for highly important occasions, so basically never (1 or 2 times per year). Therefore I think I can manage to keep it all my life, hopefully. My precioussss.
Anyway, in room 13 you can watch a funny video (alternately in Italian, French and English) explaining the history of perfume in Venice since Middle Ages. I enjoyed watching it and I suggest you to do the same. I knew nothing about perfume and I learnt many things.
In the other rooms you will see raw materials used for perfume productions, ancient perfume bottles, distillation tools, some monitors where you can learn the perfume extraction techniques (enflourage for example, used for flowers), a perfumer’s organ and most of all a room where you can smell different scents sniffing perfume bottles caps.
I learnt that there are different olfactory groups: Fougère family (lavender for example), Citrus (bergamot, orange, lemon and so on), Floral (I only remember the rose), Oriental (musk, vanilla, etc), Woody (such as sandal or cedar wood).
Sniffing here and there
Sniffing here and there I found out I’m fond of these scents: cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg. So basically Christmas biscuits. I was happy to smell those things because… ah ah ah I was about to write “I’m a very smelly person”… what I actually mean is that I’m an “olfactory person”. I always smell everything: rooms, clothes, food and drinks before put them in my mouth, books (some of them smell very good), etc. Next to the Ticket Office there is also a small perfume shop.
But after this visit I decided to try and create my own perfume bottle, I’ll let you know if I succeed or not! (In the meantime, yes, I did it. I created my own perfume using vodka (I know, it is strange, but I read so online. I finally opened the vodka bottle our half Russian friend Ivan gave us before leaving for London… in 2012), cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla natural extracts. It smells delicious but the scent doesn’t last long. Probably because I didn’t use preservatives.
Tips for the visit
- To reach the “piano nobile” you must climb the staircase (a stairlift is to be installed) and the toilets are not wheelchair-accessible.
- Beautiful little rooms full of refined furniture and décor.
- Interesting and funny perfume area. There is also the possibility to attend their perfume composition workshop
- 18th century tapestries and gowns.
- Every room has an explanatory sheet in Italian, English, French and… I don’t remember anymore but I think there were other languages.
- The costumes are beautiful but they are only a few, it is definitely not a costumes museum. Moreover are mainly men suits (and you can admire them only from a distance and not very close).
- The explanatory sheets are not very detailed. There are for example not many information about some of the objects and no information at all about the Mocenigo family (but you can find some on a panel at the entrance of the Museum).
In conclusion I liked the Museum, both for the furniture and rooms and for the perfume exhibition. It was neat, not long to visit, the video was funny. Therefore I’d say it is wortha visit for those who appreciate perfume and wants to see the interior of a Venetian palace.
Santa Croce 1992, Venezia
From November 1st to March 31st 10 am – 4 pm (ticket office 10 am – 3.30 pm)
From April 1st to October 31st 10 am – 5 pm (ticket office 10 am – 4.30 pm)
Closed on Mondays, December 25th, January 1st and May 1st
MUSEUM PASS full 24€, reduced 18€ (includes: Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo, Carlo Goldoni’s House, Ca’ Pesaro + Oriental Art Museum, Glass Museum – Murano, Lace Museum – Burano, Natural History Museum Museum)
Info for the perfume workshop at mocenigo.visitmuve.it/workshop