Ca' Foscari Tours
More Ca' Foscari photos
Ca' Foscari's land entrance is on the Calle Foscari, a few streets east of Campo S. Margherita in Dorsoduro.
The palazzo's courtyard façade is from the Renaissance--unlike the Grand Canal side of the building and the original courtyard wall, which are from the Venetian Gothic period. (The protest banner at right is a modern addition.)
From a grilled gate in the palace courtyard, you can look across the Rio di Ca' Foscari at Venice's main fire station, where fireboats are housed in vaulted slips.
The Ca' Foscari tour includes a visit to the courtyard of Ca' Giustinian, the Venetian Gothic-style palazzo next door, which is used by the university for administrative functions and special exhibits. Note the staircase in the photo above: In earlier times, all Venetian palaces had outside staircases.
The well in the courtyard of Ca' Giustinian isn't really a well--it's the top of a huge cistern beneath the courtyard's bricks.
Until modern utilities came to Venice, palazzi and public squares around the city had cisterns where rainwater was filtered and stored. Rainwater entered the cisterns through small drainage holes (inset photo).
The exterior staircase behind the cistern dates back to the 15th Century. It was restored in the early 20th Century.
An inscription on a column pays tribute to Helen D'Abernon, a British expat who, while renting an apartment in Ca' Giustinian, raised funds to restore the historic staircase. Her contribution might have been lost to history if it hadn't been for a university professor's smoking habit (shown in a photo dramatization above). Your Ca' Foscari tour guide will be happy to tell the story.
Don't be surprised if you see a small dog wandering around the courtyards of Ca' Foscari and Ca' Giustinian: It's neither a university mascot nor a stray; it belongs to the caretaker, who lives on the premises.
After you've toured the courtyards, you'll go inside Ca' Foscari and head for the water entrance, which is off limits to ordinary visitors but is included in the guided tour.
This picture was taken with a fisheye lens on the canal side of the water entrance.
A wooden walkway leads to Ca' Giustinian next door. This is where the university rector and distinguished guests arrive for special events at Ca' Foscari.
As you stand at the palazzo's water entrance, you'll have one of the best canal views in Venice.
Ca' Foscari is located at a bend in the Grand Canal, and the panoramic view extends from Rialto to Accademia. (Thanks to its superb location, Ca' Foscari is equipped with a floating stage each year for the Regata Storica, a rowing competition that dates back to the 13th Century.)
Back inside the building, you'll be taken upstairs to several important rooms in the palace, where you can see a restored ceiling, a floor that was uncovered during the 2004-2006 restoration, and a small auditorium--the Aula Magna Mario Baratto--from the Carlo Scarpa restoration of 1935.
During our tour, a conference was taking place in the auditorium, so we were given a €1 discount on the tour price. Nevertheless, we were able to view the room and its artworks through a glass wall, and we observed the Italian love affair with telefonini: In the middle of a lecture, well-dressed academics of both sexes kept wandering out of the Aula Magna Mario Baratto to take calls on their mobile phones.
Can you spare an extra euro and another 15 minutes? An extended version of the tour includes Ca' Dolfin, which houses the Aula Magna Silvio Trentin (a.k.a. the university's Great Hall).
Photos 18 and 21 courtesy of Ca' Foscari University.
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