Palazzo Labia is located at the junction of the Cannaregio Canal and the Grand Canal of Venice. This location, together with the historical context when the palace was built, largely influenced the design of the palazzo. Thus, the construction works began in the late 17th century, but, in truth, the palace is one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of the Venetian 18th century. The palazzo was built to serve as residence for the Labia family, a rich Spanish family with no grand pedigree who, in order to make their way through in the Venetian aristocracy (always careful about things like the noble ancestry of its members), had to make up the lack of lineage with their dazzling wealth.

Thus, the Labias, led by Maria Labia (mother of two sons), missed out no chance to show off their tremendous fortune (Maria, for that matter, is said to have had the largest collection of jewels in the world). The construction of their sumptuous residence was, in fact, an opportunity to boast of such wealth. They commissioned two unknown architects to design the palace, namely, Andrea Cominelli and Alessandro Tremignon (the paternity of the design remains, however, uncertain) who, in order to honor the expectations of the family (in respect to the uniqueness of the building), endowed the palace with two facades (which is, in fact, a less common architectural feature): one facing the Grand Canal, and the other visible from the Cannaregio Canal. A third facade, which can be admired from Campo San Geremia, was, in all likelihood, designed by the more reputed Giorgio Massari.

The facades exude a balanced Baroque vibe, being neither suffocated by decorative elements nor lacking such insertions. From this point of view, the three facades remain equally elegant, featuring no inconsistencies between each one’s decorative patrimonies. From the first floor to the fifth, the two canal facades are dotted with mullioned windows and pilasters, whereas the one visible from Campo San Geremia features visible late Gothic influences: glazed columns and roof balustrades, for instance.

The interior of the palace is famed for its Ballroom, outstanding by the fact it is completely covered with frescoes. The frescoes focus on scenes inspired from the story of Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius (Maria Labia herself, renowned for her beauty during her youth, is said to have been the model which inspired the version of Cleopatra featured in these frescoes). They were created by Tiepolo and Girolamo Mengozzi Colonna and, as far as Tiepolo is concerned, the frescoes are largely appreciated as the best work the artist has ever produced in Venice (though others incline to believe plenty of flows can be pointed out).

A further historical reference is after the economic and social standing decay of the Labia family (the late 18th century), the palace was, it too, left derelict. It was not until the mid 20th century that the palazzo was bought by the rich and refined Don Carlos de Beistegui. Palazzo Labia became, thus, once again, a hub of the social events and meetings, a standing it kept for several years, drawing notorious guests like Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Salvador Dali (Le Bal Oriental of 1951 is memorable in this respect).

Palazzo Labia
Campo San Geremia, Cannaregio, Venice, Italy
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