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Palazzo Grimani and the dangerous Venetian Renaissance




Yesterday we returned to visit Palazzo Grimani in Venice.

A place suspended, enchantingly, between different dimensions of soul and reason: it is worth attempting the hint of a sketch, so that enthusiasts can find inspiration to delve deeper.


Giovanni Grimani was the Patriarch of Aquileia, a title that had long been a monopoly of the family.

Venice, however, was pushing for a change of hands, leveraging the accusations of heresy that involved him and which would never leave him in all the years to come.

As with the Vicenza aristocracy, some Venetian families closer to Rome were also sensitive to the new ideas that came down from the north through trade.


It was the world in which Palladio's second mentor and patron after the death of Giangiorgio Trissino, Daniele Barbaro, also lived.

It was to him that John handed over - always but never completely - the patriarchate, fully sharing his love for the ancients and enthusiasm for Erasmus.


The lines of different worlds, ancient and nascent, were meeting right here.


It could be said for both John and Daniel: had they not been Christians, they would have sworn on the words of Aristotle, so much did they admire his very happy ability to investigate the truth of things, as well as to pursue it thanks to reason and intelligence.


And so Grimani was denounced as a crypto-Lutheran, for years nurturing "this mala et pessima profession" heretical in his heart and mind, indeed becoming an active supporter, hosting Lutherans in his own home and favoring them outside.

Not only the abbots and friars of "bad quality", but anyone among the Venetian patricians and the hinterland, knew they could count on his favor.


We are talking about powerful people, the complaints partially deflate; yet even after several years Pope Julius III, urged by the Doge to grant the cardinal's purple to Giovanni, still believes that he "proceeded recklessly, not knowing how to keep within himself those opinions that came to his imagination".


It is the world in which Andrea Palladio participates, who interprets it in architecture.


Palladio, who is now proto in Venice, without any doubt will have visited Giovanni Grimani's collection of antiquities, in that palace first renovated with his brother Vettore, and then further expanded by him to accommodate the representation of those ideas, in stone.


His refined collection of antiquities, absolutely unique in Venice, finally has a worthy home: it is the mausoleum of that thought.


We are working on creating a new Renaissance tour in Venice, it will be ready soon. If you are interested in being the first, write to us here!


Otherwise, you can definitely start here!

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