Travel

These walls could tell a tale or two

STEEPED IN HISTORY : The impressive exterior and setting of Venice’s Hotel Danieli.
STEEPED IN HISTORY : The impressive exterior and setting of Venice’s Hotel Danieli.

IF its walls could talk, what tales could they tell of the romantic encounters consummated within the centuries-old bosoms of Venice's Hotel Danieli - a grand hostelry created by bringing together no fewer than three one-time, side-by-palaces.

Perhaps the best known of these romances is that of Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis and opera's Maria Callas, brought together at a party organised at the Danieli by American gossip columnist and party-guru, Elsa Maxwell in 1957.

And while Onassis was nearly two decades her senior, and both of them were married, Onassis immediately began showering Maria with attention. But it was two years before he made an audacious move: he invited the singer to join him on his luxury yacht for a three-week cruise of Greece and Turkey... taking along his own wife, and inviting Maria to bring along her husband.

To the horror of their spouses and other guests also on board, Onassis purposely did little to hide his feelings towards Maria, and somewhere into the second week she admitted to "falling head over heels in love," confessing that she and Ari had consummated their love aboard the yacht...

And bizarrely, Onassis asked Callas' husband if he would agree to a divorce so he and Maria could marry.

When that marriage did come about it was tempestuous, swinging between love and emotion, and physical fighting and name-calling.

Ari also could be unfaithful, the couple's lives creating gossip-page headlines for the next decade and a half. Even after famously marrying Jackie Kennedy in 1968 after divorcing Maria, Onassis turned up on Maria's doorstep in Paris late one night, hammering on the door and begging to be let in.

What had begun as a romantic encounter between millionaire and opera star in the Hotel Danieli had degenerated into soap opera.

But it wasn't the only grand emotional entanglement woven into the history of the Hotel Danieli, that had originally been built as those three palaces in the 1400s by the flamboyant Dandolo family - themselves no slouches when it came to partying. In fact, hotel records include an entry: "today, the 28th August 1498, has arrived the Prince of Salerno... a most brilliant reception was given, great festas held in his honour".

In 1805 hotelier Giuseppe Dal Niel rented the palaces and converted them into a hotel, giving it his nickname Danieli, and later acquiring the buildings outright.

Many of the original sweeping staircases, saloons and some apartments originally created by Dal Niel and others before him have been preserved to this day, as well as stuccoes and frescoes from the 16th and 17th centuries and portraits and heraldic shields of the Dandolo families.

And it was in one of those apartments, now the Hotel Danieli's Room 10, that another famous - or infamous depending on your point of view - couple once frolicked.

The French writer George Sand whose real name was Amantine Lucile Dupin, married into high society by way of the Baron Casimir Dudevant, but quickly scandalised that society by regularly dressing as a man - and, horror of horrors, smoking tobacco in public.

After quarrelling over behaviour that her husband saw as not befitting that of an upper-class lady, George Sand moved to Paris where she soon ignited more scandal by becoming the lover of aristocrat, novelist and poet, Alfred De Musset.

The two decided to leave Paris, and being unable to decide between Rome and Venice, tossed a coin. Venice it was.

They moved into the Hotel Danieli's Room 10 overlooking the canal, each continuing their writings until after a month Alfred became extremely ill.

A doctor was called, Alfred slowly recovered - but by then, to Alfred's horror, George Sand and the handsome young doctor had become lovers.

De Musset moved back to Paris - and not long after Sand and the doctor parted ways, too. During her 71 years Sand had no fewer than six known relationships, including one with musician Frederic Chopin.

Which makes us ponder what other tales the walls of the Hotel Danieli could tell.

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  travel travelling venice


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

OPINION: We really are a nation of welfare bludgers

Centrelink

Eight out of 10 cents from taxpayer going to fund welfare

Man repeatedly struck with baseball bat during robbery

Police are investigating a violent robbery at a Loganlea store.

One of the men put the man in a headlock

Man killed after van bursts into flames in crash

Two cars were involved in the crash

Local Partners

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

'LA LA Land? I only made it through 20 minutes.' Samuel L Jackson reveals his Oscars choices.

Live performance of Sci-fi classic to open Science Festival

Qld Symphony Orchestra perform live to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Festival will host A Live Presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

Reginald VelJohnson, left, and Darius McCrary arrive at the TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Universal City, Calif.

Darius McCrary has been accused of child abuse

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

Buderim dad rejects gay son's emotional plea for second time

LOVERS: Grant and Chris have been together for more than three years, and Chris' parents refuse to acknowledge their son's fiance.

Son’s emotional plea rejected again by unmoved father

What's on the big screen this week

Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller in a scene from the movie T2: Trainspotting.

This week's new releases offer plenty of variety for movie buffs.

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Popular island resort sells to loaded international investor

OUR PICK: Chris Foey's colourful shot of one of Gladstone's great tourism hot spots, Heron Island.

International investor snaps up piece of Gladstone paradise.

Ipswich facing housing shortage: Property expert

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!