Surely you have heard about the story of a the lover of lovers, the seducer of seducers, Casanova. Often claiming that the fictional character of Don Juan DeMarco was based on historical facts of the turbulent life of Casanova, fans of love and passion stories keep this two men on a throne. But while Don Juan is just a figment of imagination or, some would even say, an arhetype that represents the seductive part of us, Casanoca walked the earth and embodied many stories, sometimes legends, which still tickle the imagination of many. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova Chevalier De Seingalt was an italian seducer from the european elite in 18th century. This versatile intellectual, violinist, spy, a diplomat and, finally, a writer, is often linked to scandals (typically related to women ). After turbulent seventy years of his life he wrote quite a number of pages filled with pure eroticism and a life story which many could envy. He titled it simply Historie de ma vie - The history of my life. Can you imagine what the story of his life was like?
From a priest to a lover
His story begins in Venice, where he was born in 1725. Casanova had planned to become a priest because at that time it was quite a good option for anyone and he thought it would make him rich. However, he failed at this plan – some of the stories say that his superiors in the church did not like his drunkenly falling during the sermon or intimate gatherings with women. At one point, he planned to be become a soldier but this plan failed also, due to his ‘boaring’ position, and love for gambling. He traveled to Istanbul, but in the end returned to Venice. The story says that after returning to his hometown he got stuck with a company and one of the evenings, when they drank heavily, Casanova and his friends separated a wife from her husband and she allegedly made love to all the group. This playful young man was at the very bottom when he got lucky and saved the life of one nobleman and in return got his eternal gratitude – in the form of a house, servants and luxury. His new situation certainly helped to make it even easier to seduce women and spend nights with them. He wrote about his seductive potential:
”But persistence was key to his success: “I knew,” he wrote, “that there was not a woman in the world who could resist the assiduous care and constant attentions of a man who wished to make her fall in love with him.”
How would our readers comment on his statement?:-) But something less known is that he also loved women dressed in men, and in addition he had many love affairs, some even with nuns, one of which was the mistress of the French ambassador, the future Cardinal. But his turbulent biography does not stop here.
Persona (non) grata
Casanova never had any regular income but he managed to live luxurious, he was dressed very well, liked to live in expencive houses, have a carriage and servants, spend on women he met, and especially loved – gambling. That’s how he gambled away almoust everything. However, the story says that the highest profit he achieved was in Paris when he had helped a group organize the state lottery. For his commission he earned, in today’s proportion, a billion. One of his anecdotes says that in 1755 he ended up in prison for possession of banned books and practicing magic. We might ask ourselves, is there some logic in such a chaotic life, is there a philosophy? Does it go towards a goal? An author Judith Summers ih her book about Casanova’s life, said he ended up with nothing, became a persona non grata, with no wife, no lover, no legal children, no property, no place to call home. But, who are we to judge? Apparently he never thought of marriage – he wrote:
”I have loved women even to madness. BUt I have always preferred my freedom to them”.
In these last years Casanoca went from a passionate lover to a passionate writer.
Casanova in Istria?
A lot was said about Casanova, many movies were made and many books written. He remained an eternal inspiration to people interested in erotica, passion and incredible life stories. The same way he conquered the world, he penetrated the pores of some Istrian towns, which gladly put some of his adventures in their storytelling. Istrian municipality Bale had its own little Casanova momentum because he visited the palace Bembo-Soardo and it is suspected he had an affair with the former lady owner.
On the other hand, a litlle town on the western coast of Istria, called Vrsar, is proud that Casanova visited these parts of the world, and that he mentioned Vrsar in his book. This link inspired the inhabitants of Vrsar to establish a Casanova festival, a festival of love and eroticism, inspired by stories of this rebellious lover. The festival is designed as an event celebrating the historical the connection between the famous seducer and Vrsar and as a proof that love and eroticism are an inexhaustible sourse of inspiration and great topic to create touristic attraction. Can Casnova be a motive of someone’s journey? Can he be the basis of some new stories in Istria? Let’s end this with some of his own words:
“The man who seeks to educate himself must first read and then travel in order to correct what he has learned.”
With those thoughts, and in a hope for a new story that can inspire Istria, we travel on, and remember Casanova as an eternal adventurer and lover, who might have walked the same paths that we are walking today, looking for something just a little more than ordinary everyday life.
Daria Zulim - with the Master in Croatian studies and project manager for EU project diploma approaching, this creative girl is a volunteer in Istra Inspirit team. This creative soul, positive thinker, outgoing, fun and honest person is also a dancer, model, lector and a member of the youth association sVhra.