Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice

Historic Venetian palace which is open as one of the city’s Civic Museums, incorporating an exhibition of 18th-century dress

Palazzo Mocenigo is in the Santa Croce district of Venice, just off the Grand Canal, behind the Church of San Stae. It has facades on two sides: one looks on onto a small canal and the land entrance is on a narrow lane. Consequently there are no grand views of the palace, but inside it is a typical and imposing Venetian aristocratic residence. The palace was left to the city of Venice by its owner, the last of this branch of the Mocenigo family, in the mid-twentieth century. Nowadays it is open as a museum in which visitors can view the state rooms on the piano nobile first floor along with a collection of eighteenth-century costume.

The visitor arrives in the ground floor entrance hall (androne), which stretches from the water entrance to the land entrance and is ornamented with stone busts. A stairway leads upstairs to the exhibition area, emerging in the portego, a large reception hall above the androne. Around the walls are paintings of notable members of the Mocenigo family, along with public figures such as Charles II of England.

The museum isn’t terribly large; there are just a handful of rooms on the first floor which are open to the public. Most contain interesting decorative features, such as stucco or frescoed ceilings, along with a few paintings and historic furniture. Dotted through the exhibition space are costumes from the eighteenth century, displayed in glass cases. Most of the paintings relate to the Mocenigo family, including some large evocative scenes by Antonio Stom of balls and celebrations, labelled ‘Splendours of the Mocenigo Family’. A religious scene in the bedroom is by the Bellini workshop.

This isn’t the same Palazzo Mocenigo that Byron stayed in; the poet lodged in another building belonging to the same family further down the Grand Canal.

Palazzo Mocenigo is easy to find: from the San Stae vaporetto stop take the lane straight ahead, and you’ll find the palazzo on your left. The address is Santa Croce 1992. As one of the Civic Museums the museum is included on combined tickets. Opening hours are 10am-4pm November-March and 10am-5pm April-November. Last admission is half-an-hour before closing time.

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