Then the Rio S. Maria Zobenigo o dei Furlani and a palace, opposite the steamboat station. Another palace, and then a busy traghetto, with vine leaves over its shelter, and looking up the campo we see the church of S. Maria del Giglio with all its holy statues. Ruskin (who later moved to the Zattre) did most of his work on The Stones of Venice in the house which is now the Palazzo Swift, an annexe of the Grand Hotel, a little way up this campo. Here he lived happily with his young wife and toiled at the minutiae of his great book; here too he entertained David Roberts and other artists with his father’s excellent sherry, which they described as “like the best painting, at once tender and expressive”.
And now the hotels begin, almost all of them in houses built centuries ago for noble families. Thus the first Grand Hotel block is fourteenth century—the Palazzo Gritti. The next Grand Hotel block is the Palazzo Fini and is seventeenth century, and the third is the Manolesso-Ferro, built in the fourteenth century and restored in the nineteenth. Then comes the charming fourteenth-century Contarini-Fasan Palace, known as the house of Desdemona, which requires more attention. The upper part seems to be as it was: the water floor, or sea storey, has evidently been badly botched. Its glorious possession is, however, its balconies, particularly the lower.
Of the Grand Canal balconies, the most beautiful of which is, I think, that which belongs to this little palace, no one has written more prettily than that early commentator, Coryat. “Again,” he says, “I noted another thing in these Venetian Palaces that I have very seldome seen in England, and it is very little used in any other country that I could perceive in my travels, saving only in Venice and other Italian cities. Somewhere above the middle of the front of the building, or (as I have observed in many of their Palaces) a little beneath the toppe of the front they have right opposite to their windows, a very pleasant little tarrasse, that jutteth or butteth out from the maine building, the edge whereof is decked with many pretty little turned pillers, either of marble or free stone to leane over. These kinds of tarrasses or little galleries of pleasure Suetonius calleth Meniana. They give great grace to the whole edifice, and serve only for this purpose, that people may from that place as from a most delectable prospect contemplate and view the parts of the City round about them in the coole evening.”—No modern description could improve on the thoroughness of that.
Next is the pretty Barozzi Wedmann Palace, with its pointed windows, said to be designed by Longhena, who built the great Salute church opposite, and then the Hotel Alexandra, once the Palazzo Michiel. For the rest, I may say that the Britannia was the Palazzo Tiepolo; the Grand Hotel de l’Europe was yet another Giustiniani palace; while the Grand Canal Hotel was the Vallaresso. The last house