In the heart of Venice, a few steps away from the majestic Piazza San Marco and the bustling shopping area of Rialto, in a quiet area of the Castello district, there is an unmissable museum: the collection of the Querini Stampalia Foundation, a real gem and one of the best-preserved house-museums in Europe.
Plunging into it means taking a dip in the past and in the splendour of the Venetian Republic: you can experience the atmosphere of splendor, luxury and sophistication that surrounded the aristocratic Querini family.
The noble floor of the opulent palace recreates this ambiance of extraordinary elegance and refinement: visiting it means being able to live – for a couple of hours – in a fairy tale setting, where even smallest object tells us something about the glorious past of the Serenissima.
Our look is bewitched by the rich tapestries, the refined fabrics and the precious furnishings in the various rooms, which enhance the beauty of the paintings and valuable sculptures by renowned artists adorning every wall and every corner of the building, while the 18th century porcelain, with a sophisticated decoration, competes for the visitor’s attention with the enchanting Murano glass chandeliers, magnificently suspended over the large volumes of the rooms and hanging from ceilings frescoed with soft pastel colors.
It is a constant surprise: like a casket, the palace opens up to the visitor little by little, revealing the wonderful jewels of its collection.
Let yourself be led back in time, through objects, works of art, furnishings that, since 1869, not only tell the story of a family, of its daily life and its culture, but also are able to reflect the life of a unique city in the world, as solely Venice can be.
However, before setting out on this storytelling path into the life of this family, it is essential to present the noble Querini, in order to totally understand the spirit of the collection that you are about to visit.
Of very ancient origins, probably originating from Eraclea or Cittanova, the Querini are among the first founders of Venice. Considered already at the end of the 13th century among the richest families, over the centuries they actively participate in the political, artistic and economic events of the city. The second surname – Stampalia – derives from a remote feud of the Dodecanese, purchased by Zuanne Querini in the 14th century.
In the 18th century two great personalities stand out: Angelo Maria, cardinal, lively intellectual, protagonist of the European cultural life of the time, and Andrea, an enlightened politician, patron protector of Carlo Goldoni, who devotes him a comedy, and a friend of Pietro Longhi.
However, it will be Count Giovanni Querini Stampalia, who lived in the following century, who in his will show the intention to establish a foundation open to the public, based in the family palace. Here is what he wrote in the will dated November 11th, 1868:
[…] My Library, Gallery, Medalist, Art Objects placed in my Palace in S. Zaccaria will become public use. – A reading cabinet will be joined to the first floor of my building in the rooms I live in. – The Reading Cabinet and the Library will remain open in the days, and hours that […] Curators will determine, but constantly in all those days, and hours when public libraries are closed, and in the evening especially for the convenience of scholars, they will be placed not in the Library, but in a nearby hall, beautiful, comfortable, with stoves, and carpets for the winter. – There will be rooms for evening meetings of learned and scientists, national and foreigners […] At least a third part of my annual income will be used for this free library foundation and for the evening meetings among scholars and knowledge friends who are not present in this city. The main goal of Fondazione Querini will be to promote devotion to the cult of good studies and useful disciplines…” […] “
Thanks to his enterprising generosity, Venice today can count this building among its museums, which, in addition to being substantially intact, also houses an extensive library, which has over 350,000 volumes.
Are you not intrigued? Would you like to know more about the Querini Stampalia collection? I leave you with the promise of a next post where I will accompany you on a visit to Palazzo Querini. But if you cannot wait for my post, I suggest you take advantage of a guided tour with one of the #bestveniceguides and I’m sure you will be satisfied.