The Doge’s palace features the very best and the very worst of Venice’s history – from vast paintings by Tintoretto and Veronese to the wooden slot where accusations of treason were slipped to the fearsome Secret Police. To wander the corridors of the Duke’s palace is to understand the Republic of Venice, for better or for worse.
Our tour of the palace combines a guided visit to the Secret Itineraries with a free visit to Doge’s Chambers, assuring you get the most complete tour of the Doge’s Palace. Marvel over ceilings frescoed by Tintoretto to show Justice presenting herself to the Doge while you think of all the feet that have shuffled on the tiles you stand on – ambassadors waited nervously in this very spot for an audience with the Doge in the Hall of Four Doors. Then there’s the numerous flattering works produced on demand by the masters of the time – ‘Virtues of the Republic’ in the Council Room was Veronese’s rosy outlook on the state of his nation while ‘The Triumph of Venice’ in the Senate Hall was where Tintoretto paid his dues on a high ceiling.
For all of the splendor that its corridors hold, you would never guess what is hidden in the attic upstairs in the Doge's palace. Follow your guide to the attic prison where Venice’s famous lover and writer Casanova was kept for months before he managed a successful escape. Peering around this dark room, considering the security that must have existed, it’s almost impossible to imagine how he did it – never mind, our guides have the answers.
Casanova was not the only man to see the Doge’s palace on less than favorable terms. After your guide has left you, you’ll have the opportunity to walk the Bridge of Sighs – so named for the prisoners that walked its length on their way to cells across the canal. As they took their last look at beautiful Venice they couldn’t help but sigh. Your guide will leave you inside the Doge's palace so that you can cross over to the 16th century New Prisons. If time allows wander around inside to see the graffiti that lines cells here, protestations of innocence etched out on the walls.
A visit to the Doge’s Palace is a rollercoaster experience, taking you from the artistic highs of Renaissance Venice to its grim bottom. When you step, blinking back into the sun, your head will be full of masterfully executed paintings and needlessly executed prisoners. One thing is for sure – you’ll never again see Venice in the same light.