The so called Goldoni House is actually one of the 9 different houses where he lived in Venice. This is the one where he was born and lived until he was 12. It is a small Gothic palace called Ca’ Centani, dating back to the XV century and located in the San Polo Sestiere. It now hosts a tiny “museum” and a library (specialized in theatre studies, accessible only to scholars prior authorization).
- I tried to reach Goldoni house looking in Google Maps for San Polo 2794, as the official website indicates. But I ended up at the door of the “Centre de Musique Romantique Francaise”. The address is wrong! Or, at least, it is wrong on Google Maps. Luckily a gentleman was going out of his home in that precise moment. So I asked him for the right directions. I had to go back direction Frari Church, Campo San Tomà and then search for Calle dei Nomboli, that was the right address!
Something about Carlo Goldoni: Attracted to the world of the theater since he was a kid, he wrote his first comedy plot at the age of 8. Forced by his family to study, he graduated in law from Padua University in 1731. As a practising lawyer, he continued reading Italian and foreign playwrights and composing several works, until he got his first commission for a theatre in Venice in 1747.
Thanks to Goldoni the modern Italian theatre begins. In fact he was able to represent the themes and the key issues of his contemporary society with irony but at the same time depth, becoming the “Italian Molière“. Among his most famous works there are: Il servitore di due padroni, The Servant of Two Masters (1745), I due gemelli veneziani, The Two Venetian Twins (1747), I rusteghi, The Boors (1760) and Le baruffe chiozzotte, The Chioggia Scuffles(1762).
My visit to the Goldoni House
Beyond the Ticket Office (the lady gave me a booklet containing further information about the author, his comedies, etc, which is also available in English) you enter the pleasant covered courtyard, equipped with some tables and comfortable chairs, a map of Venice showing the position of the 9 houses in which Goldoni lived and some panels describing the first years of his life (only in Italian).
I decided to rest a bit because that very day I had visited 2 other Museums before that. On the right I could spot the so called “water door”. It was once used to go out by boat. I enjoyed the sight of the well and the Gothic staircase. Plus the poster with Goldoni’s portrait and his quote:
“…poiché la mia vita medesima è una commedia” (because my very own life is a comedy)
After the break I climbed the beautiful staircase (but I think there’s an elevator next to the Ticket Office). The museum at Goldoni house consists of 3 rooms + video room. I tried to read the booklet they gave me but (strange but true) it had too much information, data, facts, whatever and I got tired of it soon, plus it was difficult to find what to read when, and where and why: too messy.
- Room 1: Here you can see an Arlecchino costume, used during modern theatrical performances of Goldoni’s play “Arlecchino servitore di due padroni”, some letters, photos and memorabilia belonging to some Italian actors (Emma Gramatica), a Goldoni portrait, 2 writing desks (I didn’t understand whose they were… Oh my God, is this sentence correct????? No idea) and a wooden dormeuse recalling a Goldoni comedy, entitled “La finta ammalata” (The fake sick).
- Room 2, The dining room: Beautiful chandelier, a wooden table with chairs and other 18th century pieces of furniture, a costume, some porcelain objects and some paintings on the walls describing aristocracy life at the time of Carlo Goldoni (The Kitchen, Lunch with masks, The music lesson, The Concert, etc). Even with that I had problems! There were no tags on the wall and, though following the booklet, I wasn’t able to find or to recognize some of the listed paintings.
- Room 3: the best one, displaying two gaming tables, one of them set for a Venetian ancient gambling game called biribisso, which sounds very funny in Italian [bee -ree -BEES -soh], similar to lotto: the players must put their wager on one of the 70 different slots on the table – on each slot there’s a number or a figure. The dealer pulls out a number or a figure from a bag. Who bet on the winning one receives 64 times the stake; all the losers must give their bet to the dealer. Plus, a lovely little puppet theatre with some puppets set to re-enact a scene from “Il servitore di due padroni” (Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters). Goldoni’s family possessed a similar theatre, which Carlo defined “a charming entertainment”. Sadly it went lost, so the one displayed here comes from the collection of another noble Venetian family, the Grimani ai Servi, Goldoni’s acquaintances. All around the room you can see the amazing XVIII century puppets (they’re about 40). Some of them are made of precious fabrics like silk with golden or silver inserts. You can see the old woman, the doctor, the maid, the dame, the gentleman, the tutor, the merchant, the Chinese, the devil and even (although I can’t follow the logic behind his presence) a leopard 😀
- Video room: I entered and stopped to see the documentary about Goldoni (in Italian). Since it was a cold day and I didn’t feel like eating outdoor, I grabbed the chance to eat the sandwich I brought from home.
In conclusion, the best part are:
- the courtyard (also visible from the outside),
- the gaming tables and
- the puppets theatre, but the museum is minuscule and quite bare.
I suppose it is worth a visit if you have the Museum Pass and if you’re curious to see the little theatre. Or if you’re a big Goldoni fan.
San Polo 2794, Venice
From April 1st to October 31st 10 am – 5 pm (ticket office 10 am – 4.30 pm). From November 1st to March 31st 10 am – 4 pm (ticket office 10 am – 3.30 pm)
Closed on Wednesdays, December 25th, January 1st and May 1st
Fully accessible for disabled people
Full price Ticket 5€
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)