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By Andrea di Robilant

Within the waning days of Venice’s glory within the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo used to be scion to 1 the city’s oldest patrician households. on the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the attractive, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mom and British father. as a result of their dramatically diversified positions in society, they can now not marry. And Giustiniana’s mom, afraid that an affair might break her daughter’s probabilities to shape a stronger union, forbade them to determine one another. Her prohibition in simple terms fueled their wish and so all started their torrid, mystery seven-year-affair, enlisting the help of a number of intimates and servants (willing to hazard their very own positions) to commute love letters from side to side and to aid facilitate their clandestine conferences. finally, Giustiniana stumbled on herself pregnant and she or he became for support to the notorious Casanova—himself infatuated with her.
Two and part centuries later, the incredible tale of this star-crossed couple is advised in a panoramic narrative, re-created partially from the passionate, clandestine letters Andrea and Giustiniana wrote to one another.

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Oh Lord, what will Giustiniana say. . Let’s see how she will treat me. . Goodness, there she is, that naughty girl [who wouldn’t look at me] the other evening. . Will she look at me this time or won’t she. . Come, look this way my girl! . And little by little I began to feel better. And then much better when I moved into that other box because I could see you and you could see me so well and with no great danger that your mother might notice every little gesture between us. As an overall strategy, Andrea felt it was important to convince Mrs.

In 1717 he married Catherine Tofts, a popular singer who had made a name for herself in the London theaters before coming to Venice. Wealthy and well connected, Catherine was certainly the major drawing card of the Smith ménage in the early years of their marriage. But over time she gradually withdrew from society, perhaps never recovering from the loss of their son, John, who died in 1727 at the age of six. As his business flourished, Smith purchased Palazzo Balbi, which he had rented ever since his arrival in Venice, and commissioned the architect Antonio Visentini, a friend and protégé, to renovate the façade.

But until then there prevailed a sense that things would go on unchanged as they had for centuries and that life should therefore be enjoyed to the fullest. In those happier years the house of Consul Joseph Smith, a rich English merchant turned art collector, was one of the busiest and most interesting places on the Venetian scene—a meeting point of fashionable artists, intellectuals, and foreign travelers. It was in Smith’s art-filled drawing room at Palazzo Balbi, on the Grand Canal, that Andrea met Giustiniana sometime in late 1753.

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