As the main street in Venice, the Grand Canal is often considered the most romantic, the most fascinating, and the most Intriguing street in the world. This ancient waterway winds a leisurely S-shaped path from the Saint Mark Basin for slightly over two miles and ends in a lagoon not far from the Santa Lucia railway station.
Since its very beginnings, the city of Venice was a merchant’s city. As far back as the 10th century it was an important center for trade — and the buildings that line the Grand Canal were showplaces built by the wealthiest merchants, mostly between the 13th and 17th centuries. Many of these buildings were originally ornately decorated and richly furnished homes, although most of them are now museums.
Visitors today who tour the Grand Canal can view these fabulous palaces of the merchant kings along the waterway. Yes, their colors are a bit faded. But the sights of the Grand Canal include some of Venice’s finest architecture. And their stories are as rich and full of intrigue as the history of this unique city.
Legends of the Ca Dario
The gorgeous pink marble Palazzo Ca Dario, a classic example of the Venetian Gothic style, was built in the mid-1400s overlooking the Grand Canal. Known to locals as the “house of no return,” this graceful palace is quite possibly the best-known haunted house in the world. The horror stories surrounding Ca Dario began almost as soon as it was built and continue into the 20th century.
Home to the Dario family for several hundred years, the mansion’s first victim was Marietta Barbaro, the daughter of the original owner. She was imprisoned in the house, and starved to death. Not long after, her father and husband both died, while her brother, Vincenzo, was murdered there
The family finally sold the house to a wealthy diamond dealer who went bankrupt shortly after buying Ca Dario, and died a pauper. In 1832 Rawdon Brown, a well-known British scientist, bought the mansion. A decade later he, too, went broke — and both he and his lover committed suicide.
Late in the 19th century, the home was purchased twice. The first buyer was accused of criminal behavior and fled Venice. The second became deathly ill after buying the cursed mansion, and moved to France. Much later, in the 1970s, Ca Dario’s owner was murdered in the house by his lover. Other victims of the Ca Dario include Nicoletta Ferrari, who was killed in a car accident, Christopher Lambert, manager of the famous rock band The Who, and wealthy businessman Raul Gardini, both of whom committed suicide.