Ca Dario, Grand Canal, Venice


Cà Dario

the House that Kills

Palazzo_Dario.jpgHave you ever dreamed about buying a house in Venice, maybe on the Canal Grande? Well, there is a 500 year old palazzo that is often on sale at a relatively moderate price, but always struggles to find a new owner. Overlooking the Grand Canal between the Accademia and the Salute, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Venice: Ca’ Dario. located in Dorsoduro, near the Peggy Gugghenheim museum, Ca Dario is not very tall, really rather narrow (the front is shorter than a gondola), and tilts to the right, but it has a Renaissance façade in Istria stone that is decorated with polychrome marble and circular medallions.

There must be a catch… and there is. You see, many think that the place is cursed and that all its owners are doomed to lose everything they own or even die a violent death.

The building was made in 1487 by Giovanni Dario, on an old Gothic building, inspired by the ways of Pietro Solari, said the “Lombard”. Giovanni Dario was a merchant of Cretan origin, but he was also a man with a great personality, humanistic culture and diplomacy, so that he became notary of the Ducal Chancery, but he is particularly remembered for negotiating the peace agreement of 1479 with the Sultan Mehmet II. At his death the palace was inherited by his daughter Marietta—who eventually killed herself by plunging in the Canal Grande, after marrying Vincenzo Barbaro—who lost all his possessions and was stabbed to death. It fell to their son, Gasparo, as their other son, Vincenzo Jr, was killed by mysterious assassins in the island of Creta. The palace remained to the Barbaro family until the late eighteenth century.

VenetianCanivale-Chesa.jpgThe Venetians were shocked by these three violent deaths and started to think the palace was cursed because it was built on an ancient templar cemetery. Others said that the curse was due the inscription at the ground floor “_VRBIS GENIO IOANNES DARIVS_” (Giovanni Dario, in honor of the city genius), whose anagram is “_Sub ruina insidiosa genero_” (Who will leave in this house will be ruined).

The house was inhabitated for almost two centuries, but as the legend was starting to fade, the deaths began again. Alessandro Barbaro was a descendant of Vincenzo, the original owner who lived in the 19th century. He decided to rebuild completely the façade of the house, before selling it to Arbit Abdoll, a rich Armenian diamond merchant, who went bankrupt shortly after buying the building and who died poor right after.

The next owner was Radon Brown, in the early nineteenth century. He committed suicide inside the building along with the companion, possibly because of the scandal caused by their homosexual liaisons. Years later, Charles Briggs, an American millionaire, faced the same fate. He had to flee from Venice because he was accused of being gay and his boyfriend met the shame with his suicide. Henry De Reigner became seriously ill after the purchase of the building and he was forced to return to France. Count Giordano delle Lanze was killed in the building, shot in the head with a vase by the Croatian sailor who lived with him.

VenitianCarnivale-Dominika.jpgIn the sixties, the famous singer Mario del Monaco had a terrible car accident just when he was going to Venice to buy Cà Dario. He luckily escaped death and decided to withdraw his offer for the palace. Filippo Giorgano delle Lanze was not as lucky: in the 70s when he bought Cà Dario, he was killed shortly after by his boyfriend, who also died a violent death in London, where he fled. Cristopher “Kit” Lambert, manager of the famous rock band “The Who”, suicided in London a few years after he bought Cà Dario. This was followed in the 80s by Fabrizio Ferrari, and his sister, Nicoletta. Fabrizio also went bankrupt in a short time, while his sister died in a car accident with no witnesses.

The 90s brought famous financier, Raul Gardini, who bought the palace in order to give it to his daughter. Shortly after, he was involved in the financial scandal “Tangentopoli” and lost most of its wealth. He also suicided, with a shot to the head, in Milan.

In the 2000, Woody Allen was thinking about buying this house, but changed his mind after reading about all these tragic deaths. In 2002, bass player* John Entwistle* suffered a heart attack a week after renting the palace.

News Flash 2016


ROME – Venice’s most famous haunted house, the Ca Dario on the Grand Canal, has been sold to an unnamed American entrepreneur, despite its grisly past. The palazzo was completed in 1487 by Giovanni Dario, a senator. He lived in it with his daughter and son-in-law, until she committed suicide.

The four-storey palazzo, elegantly clad in pink marble, has lain vacant for the past decade because Venetians are so scared of its history. Almost all of its inhabitants in the five centuries since it was built have come to an untimely end. Local folklore claims the curse on the house comes from the Knights Templar cemetery it is built over.

Its last owner, Raul Gardini, a business tycoon, shot himself shortly after buying the house because he feared arrest for allegedly paying out more than (ps)50-million ($107-million) in bribes to politicians.

Before him, in the 1970s, Giordano delle Lanze was bludgeoned to death with a statue by his gay lover, an 18-year-old Croatian sailor.

Christopher Lambert, an Englishman who bought the house in the ’80s, fell down the stairs of his London house shortly after signing the deeds, in an apparent suicide.

In the 16th century, the house was lived in by the Barbaro family until their son, Giacomo, was killed in an ambush. An Armenian jewel merchant went bankrupt after buying it.

In later centuries, there was a suicide at a party in front of guests and an American who bought the house fled the country when rumours of his homosexuality leaked out. His lover then killed himself in Mexico.

The buyer of the palazzo has not revealed his identity, but has paid $11-million for it, according to the newspaper La Stampa. In recent years, the Dario palazzo has been offered to the Guggenheim and Benetton families, both of whom turned it down.

It has also been marketed to Woody Allen and Elton John. Venetians currently go on ghost tours of the property during the day, but are loath to stay there past sunset.

Ca Dario, Grand Canal, Venice

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