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Palazzi on the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

Until the 16th century, Venetians preferred to call their palaces casa or ca' no matter how grandiose, reserving the word palazzo only for the residences of the doge and patriarch. Today the names are often used interchangeably.

To add to the confusion, some houses have several names, in a chain of former owners (although three names seems to be the maximum allowed). Often palazzi with the same name family name have a geographical suffix to tell them apart. Or not.

Unlike most Italian cities, Venice had no native stone, but also, unlike most Italian cities in the Middle Ages, Venetian nobles didn't have to build themselves castles and towers to protect themselves from each other or their fellow citizens. All merchant vessels were expected to bring back stone with them as ballast.

White Istrian limestone, polished to look like marble, adorns the grander facades; other walls are generally made of brick, faced with a thin veneer of marble or stucco.

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Around San Giovanni Crisostomo

Byzantine bits and bobs, and silk

Around Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Pretty lanes by a pretty church

Around Santi Apostoli

With some well known palazzi

Ca' d'Oro/Franchetti Gallery

Venice's golden house

Ca' da Mosto

Home of the discoverer of the Cape Verde islands

Ca' Foscari & Palazzo Giustiniani

Home of the University of Venice

Ca' Giustinian

Headquarters of the Biennale

Ca' Pesaro

With the Museums of Modern and Oriental Art

Ca' Rezzonico

Museo del Settecento

Ca' Sagredo

Hotel of pastel giants

Ca' Vendramin-Calergi

The Casino and Museo Wagner

Casino degli Spiriti

One of Venice's enduring ghost stories

Casino (Palazetto) Bru Zane

One of Venice's oldest and newest concert venues

Fondamenta Savorgnan

Palazzo Savorgnan and the Ponte delle Guglie

Fondazione Querini-Stampalia

Palace of art

Grand Canal Tour, part 1

Giardini Papadopoli to the Casino

Grand Canal Tour, part 2

The Casino to Ponte di Rialto

Grand Canal Tour, part 3

Rialto to Ca’ Foscari

Grand Canal Tour, part 4

Ca’ Foscari to Accademia

Grand Canal Tour, part 5

Accademia to San Marco

Palazzo Ariani

Also known as Palazzo Ariani Minotto Cicogna

Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto

Chamber opera in the palace

Palazzi Barbaro

Henry James's favourite

Palazzo Belloni Battagia

The palace with the obelisks

Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti

The Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti

Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo

Of the Spiral Stair

Palazzo Corner (della Ca' Grande)

Now the Prefecture

Palazzo Corner-Spinelli

Now home to the Rubelli Textiles

Palazzo Dario

The House of No Return

Palazzo dei Camerlenghi

Home of the Magistrates of trade

Palazzo delle Prigioni

Once a jail, now a concert hall

Palazzo Ducale (Doges' Palace)

Seat of Empire

Palazzo Ducale: Hidden Doge's Treasure Tour

New Behind the Scenes Tour

Palazzo Ducale: Secret Itinerary

Behind gilded scenes

Palazzo Fortuny

Former home of designer Mariano Fortuny

Palazzo Grassi

Neoclassical Palace of Contemporary Art

Museo di Palazzo Grimani

A little bit of Renaissance Rome in Venice

Palazzo Labia

One of Venice's last masterpieces

Palazzo Loredan dell'Ambasciatore

Former residence of the Austrian ambassadors

Palazzo Malipiero

Where Casanova once dallied, now used for exhibitions

Palazzo Michiel del Brusà

The burnt palazzo

Palazzo Mocenigo

Fancy interiors, costumes and perfumes

Palazzo Pisani

Now the Conservatory of Music

Palazzo Querini (former)

Once the residence of Rousseau

Palazzo Zenobio degli Armeni

With a famous hall of mirrors

Strada Nuova

A 19th-century street to the train station

The Zeno Brothers

Carlo the hero, and two who might have gone to America

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, PD art