10 August, 2006

77. Ca' Dario: Part 1

This beautiful Grand Canal residence was originally built for Giovanni Dario in the late 1480s, but it has a very unfortunate reputation. Legend has it that every subsequent owner of this palazzo – still known as Ca' Dario - has died under mysterious circumstances, either accidentally, or by murder, or by suicide.

However, like most widely accepted 'truths' involving the supernatural, when you start to dig for details, hard facts are not easy to come by. Yes, there have been suicides associated with the palazzo, most notably the death of Raul Gardini, one of Italy's best-known industrialists, who killed himself while he was the palazzo's owner in 1992, but that may not be any more significant than any of the other incidences that are supposed to have occurred in the last 500 years.

It may be possible to prove that this palazzo has the highest occurrence of unusual or sudden death of owners compared to all the other palazzi, but that in itself is not statistically significant. One or other of the palazzi on the Grand Canal has to be the owner of that peculiar honor, why not this one?

Isn't it possible that owners of Venetian palazzi have always tended to be successful, older, very rich, high stress type of people in the public eye, who have a greater propensity to being noticed when they die suddenly? And isn't it probable that such people are also more likely to be the target of kidnappers, robbers, and murderers? Given the stakes being played for at various times in Venice's history, I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few of the owners of almost any palazzo in Venice haven't been knocked off over the years, or haven't died 'unexpectedly', sometimes at the hands of relatives – after all, many of them lived lives that are a long way from what we would call statistically 'normal'.

One of the latest victims of the 'Dario curse' now being touted is John Entwhistle, the bass player for the rock band The Who, who leased this palazzo in 2002, and then died 'in mysterious circumstances' soon after. The cause of his death was cocaine induced heart failure. The mysterious circumstances are: which room of the Hard Rock Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas did he die in? (the managers of the hotel want to keep that secret to avoid fans making it into a shrine); and what was the name of the stripper he was rumoured to be making love with at the time of his death? (even old rock stars shouldn't tarnish their legends by snuffing it alone).

I am personally sorry that the world's greatest ever rock bass player is no longer with us, but I don't think the fact that he was renting this building at the time could have had much to do with his demise, do you?

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