The Ridotto Rooms
The word “Ridotto” has been a byword in Venice since 1282, referring to places where aristocrats and people from every walk of life (adventurers, prostitutes, card sharps, travellers, etc.) could retreat (“ridurre”) to enjoy a wide range of pursuits: gambling, courtesans, and social and political meetings.
In fact, outdoor gambling, a tradition born between the Columns of San Marco and San Todaro, had become so widespread in the city that the Government was happy to see players retreat indoors.
Having survived centuries of history, these spaces have been preserved as the 9 Ridotto Rooms.
Back in the day, this area was a free zone, an open-air casino where the law had no power.
In the 1600s, players were forced to wear masks in the name of a sort of twisted democracy, allowing them to pursue their gambling obsession in privacy.
The concept of “Ridotto” was a revolutionary new idea, unique in Europe. People from all over the continent flocked to Venice for its renowned beauty and its celebrated Carnival, then a six-month event.
Picture the masked travellers from distant lands, drawn in by the allure of the Ridotto Rooms.
Over the centuries, many games were introduced in the casino, several of which were mentioned by authors such as Carlo Goldoni.
But the casino was more than just a place for gambling; it was also a den of seduction.
According to one popular saying, visitors enjoyed: “Una mesetta in the morning, una bassetta after lunch, una donnetta after dinner”. It seems that the second and third activities, gambling and women, were quite the norm in the Ridotto Rooms.
Giacomo Casanova was, of course, a Ridotto regular, relishing the chance to slip away and vanish in the crowd.
Numerous international events and conventions are held in Venice every year. The 9 remarkable Ridotto Rooms are perfect for meetings, but also for transporting guests back to the time of Giacomo Casanova with performances and theme nights.