If you want to indulge to your interest for 18th century Venetian lifestyle, the museum of Ca’ Mocenigo is one of the most appropriate places where to go.
The museum (housing also the Centre of Studies on the History of Textiles and Costumes) is located on the noble floor of palazzo Mocenigo at San Stae.
Strolling through the rooms you can sense the pleasure for material beauty, which characterizes the culture of a people who traded for centuries with luxury goods: carved and gilded furniture, Murano chandeliers and appliques, velvet fabrics, Burano laces and table cloaks, frescoes and paintings. Most of the artworks and objects were purchased by the Mocenigo family and are original to the palace.
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Mannequins dressed in original 18th century costumes and various garments are displayed in the rooms as if they were there for a meeting.
Most extraordinary are the new rooms dedicated to the history of perfume resulting from the patronage of the Vidal family, owners of the Mavive Company, who has been producing fragrances, bath oils and perfumes from the beginning of the 20th century.
The evocation of an alchemical laboratory is given through the display of instruments used to distill perfumes, and a collection of rare flasks of various periods from Murano’s Glass Museum and from the Drom Collection in Munich.
The history of cosmetics is deeply connected with Venice. In the past Venetian merchants imported from the Mediterranean world not only spices, silks, gems and pigments but also essential oils with which they would create soaps, crèmes, perfumes and other beauty products.
The first treatise on cosmetics was printed in Venice in 1555 and has now been reprinted by Mavive for this occasion.
In the museum you can also experience, in a sort of scent itinerary, the traditional fragrances: Floral Bouquet, Oriental, Woody, Leather, Fern, Chypre.
The Vidal family has also opened two boutiques, called ‘The Merchant of Venice’, both housed in ancient chemist shops, where you can put up your own perfume from 40 monothematic fragrances based on classic raw materials from Europe and Asia (campo San Fantin, near the Fenice Operahouse, and Santa Fosca, in Strada Nuova).
I’m happy to recommend these shops. Unfortunately Venice is turning always more into an anonymous shopping mall offering either big brands or industrially made cheap souvenirs so I’m always very glad when I can suggest top quality products made in Venice, as in this case.