Hidden treasures

The carnival at Ridotto of St Moise in Venice

Historical Curiosities

The carnival at Ridotto of St Moise in Venice

During the Venice Republic Carnival was the only time of year when gambling was allowed. It was obviously highly profitable and therefore was managed by the state, and so, a special games room was created called the Ridotto, near the church of St Moise.

The Ridotto was only open for the months of the Carnival period (from Christmas to Lent), and one could only enter wearing a mask except for the croupiers, who were usually Barnabotti (because they lived in the parish of St Barnaba) namely, the impoverished nobles, who were paid by the state.

In 1774 the Council of Ten decreed the closure of the Ridotto of St Moise Reduced on moral grounds. In fact the room was frequented by moneylenders and prostitutes, as one can see in this beautiful painting by Francesco Guardi (1746), preserved in the Museum of Cà Rezzonico, where there is a woman in the centre with a spindle in her hand, a typical attribute of the prostitutes, who is trying to lure a prospective customer. The cards on the ground point to the frenzy of the game and so the picture of the Guardi clearly explains why the Council of Ten decided to close this "place of destruction"!

If you want to try the magical experience of a Carnival party in a typical Venetian Ridotto, we suggest you Minuetto al Ridotto, an elegant masquerade ball, which is held in the beautiful ridotto hall of the Monaco&Gran Hotel in Venice! Dinner and dancing all night long... of course wearing Venetian historical costumes!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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