Ca' Pésaro ☆☆☆

Japanese kai (painted shells for playing kai-awase), Edo period, Ca' Pésaro, Venice, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
Japanese kai (painted shells for playing kai-awase), Edo period

Venice's Ca' Pésaro and two collections: Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art) and Museo d'Arte Orientale (Asian Art Museum)

Sometimes the effort of appreciating all that Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque art can just wear you down.

Yes, the ponderous Ca' Pésaro—squatting on the Grand Canal across and just up from the more elegant Ca' d'Oro, and designed in the middle of the 17th century by Baldassare Longhena (same guy who built the Ca' Rezzonico and Santa Maria della Salute church)—still provides a generous helping of late Renaissance/early baroque architecture.

However, the two modest museums it contains are a breath of fresh air, representing art that is hundreds of years (and/or thousands of miles) away from the same old-same old Old Masters.

Museum of Modern Art

The main floor contains Venice's municipal Museo d'Arte Moderna—the spoils of hosting the Biennale, Venice's grand bi-yearly contemporary art show, from which the city has slowly purchased much of this collection over the years.

The result is a gallery of international masters such as Chagall, Matisse, Kadinsky, Klee, Klimt, Mirò, Morandi, Henry Moore, and De Chirico.

Frankly, the collection at the Peggy Guggenheim in town is better (if you're going to see just one gallery of modern art, make it that one), but these works are fine, and if you already have a Museum Pass, you get in for free anyway.

The Museum of Asian Art

Upstairs on teh third floor is the Ca' Pésaro's second museum, this one devoted to the Museo d'Arte Orentale, a hodgepodge of Asian and artifacts—armor, weapons, lacquered boxes, musical instruments, bronzes, etc.

It's heavy on the Japanese (look for Hokusai, Koryusai, and Harunobu), but there's also some stuff from China, Siam (ancient Thailand), and Java (Indonesia). Be on the lookout for a precious Khmer Buddha from 12th century Cambodia.

The collection is all the more remarkable for being formerly the private stash of Prince Henry of Bourbon Parma, who brought it back from the Orient toward the end of the 19th century and left it to Italy in his will.

(Note: There have been long-term plans to move the Asian art collection to the Palazzo Marcello, across the Grand Canal, but just when that might happen is anybody's guess. They've been talking about it for years.)

Photo gallery
  • Japanese kai (painted shells for playing kai-awase), Edo period, Ca' Pésaro, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Ca
  • Japanese samurai armor from the Edo period (1603-1868, in the Museo d
  • Khmer god from Cambodia (ca. 990-1100), in the Museo d
  • Blue and white Chinese porcelain screen (18C), in the Museo d
  • Japanese ivory pen holder, Edo period, in the Museo d
  • Netsuke of two men, carved ivory from the Edo period (19C), in the Museo d
  • Guardian of the Yakushi Nyorai Buddha, Japanese, Kamakura period (1185-1333), in the Museo d
  • Bird-shaped Indonesian container (19C), in the Museo d
  • Samurai with rifle (c. 1860) by Rinsai, in the Museo d
  • Room of Japanese instruments in the Museo d
  • Main room in the Museo d
  • Javanese Wayang Kulit Marionnette for shadow puppetry, in the Museo d
  • The Galleria Internazionale d


Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Ca' Pésaro for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

» more on discounts & passes
How long does the Ca Pesaro take?

Unless you're seriously into modern and/or Asian art, you can probably knock off both museums in 30–45 minutes or so.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).