Baroque dreams come true at Baldassare Longhena's Grand Canal palace, where a marble staircase leads to gilded ballrooms, frescoed salons and sumptuous boudoirs. Giambattista Tiepolo's Throne Room ceiling is a masterpiece of elegant social climbing, showing gorgeous Merit ascending to the Temple of Glory clutching the Golden Book of Venetian nobles’ names – including Tiepolo’s patrons, the Rezzonico family.
In the Pietro Longhi Salon, sweeping Grand Canal views are upstaged by the artist’s winsome satires of society antics, observed by disapproving lapdogs. Sala Rosalba Carriera features Carriera’s wry, unvarnished pastel portraits of socialites who aren’t conventionally pretty but look like they’d be the life of any party. Giandomenico Tiepolo’s swinging court jesters and preening parrots add cheeky humour to the reassembled Zianigo Villa frescoes.
On the top floor, don’t miss Emma Ciardi’s moody Venice canal views in the Vedutisti Gallery (Gallery Nine), and an antique pharmacy complete with 183 majolica ceramic jars of 18th-century remedies. Apparently pharmaceutical-grade scorpions don't cure everything: Robert Browning died at the Ca' Rezzonico in 1889.
The original entry of Baldassare Longhena’s dashingly handsome palace is along the Grand Canal, but the canalside gate now in use opens onto a courtyard garden where you can picnic (rare in Venice). Also on the ground floor is a cafe and the entry to the mezzanine Mestrovich Collection, including notable works by Tintoretto and Bonifacio de’ Pitati.