Palazzo Labia in Venice - the frontage that faces into the piazza Campo San Geremia

Rai may put Palazzo Labia up for sale

By Region News North-east Italy

Rai state broadcaster is considering the potential sale of the baroque Palazzo Labia on the Grand Canal in Venice, which currently houses its Veneto office.

The prospect of selling Palazzo Labia, renowned for its frescoed piano nobile adorned with masterpieces by Tiepolo, has stirred up significant local controversy. Veneto Governor Luca Zaia likened the potential sale to “selling the Colosseum.”

Tiepolo frescoes in Palazzo Labia
Tiepolo frescoes in Palazzo Labia

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano highlighted the building’s cultural significance. He noted the Ministry may exercise its right to purchase it, as Italian cultural heritage, if Palazzo Labia does go on the market.

“It certainly constitutes a site of great cultural interest,” he said on Tuesday.

A bipartisan appeal has gone up against the possible sale.

Ten facts about Venice

What makes Palazzo Labia special?

Palazzo Labia, constructed in the 17th–18th century, stands out in Venice with its formal facade along the Grand Canal, as well as visible facades along the Cannaregio Canal and its side. This is a very rare design feature in Venice.

Palazzo Labia. Alessandro Tremignon's facade facing the Campo San Geremia. Portrayed here in the 18th century it was later extended.
Alessandro Tremignon’s facade facing the Campo San Geremia. It was later extended.

Designed by architects Andrea Cominelli and Alessandro Tremignon, the palazzo experienced decay following the decline in the wealth and influence of the Labia family after the fall of the Serene Republic in 1797.

In 1948, the palazzo found a new owner in Don Carlos de Beistegui, who embarked on an extensive restoration project, infusing the building with new life. Beistegui’s ownership culminated in the extravagant masquerade ball, Le Bal oriental, held at Palazzo Labia in 1951, which became one of the most illustrious social events of the 20th century.

After a series of strokes, Beistegui sold the palazzo to Rai, the Italian State television, who use it as their regional headquarters.

Presently, the ballroom and select state rooms of Palazzo Labia are occasionally used for prestigious international conferences. They are accessible to the public by appointment.

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