The Marcello family: history and anecdotes
I was born and grew up in this villa.
First of all through my family’s care and teaching, and then in a conscious and individual way, I was charmed by these incredible surroundings permeated by tradition and a warm welcoming feeling.
After having spent 10 years away studying and working, I decided to come back here, to my home, and put all my efforts in keeping alive its splendour and making it visible to our guests, hoping that they will feel the emotions that I felt and continue to do so.
As in the past and even more… Welcome to the Villa!
The origins of the family
The legendary origin of the family dates back to the figure of Marco Claudio Marcello, commander of the Roman Empire, adopted son of Emperor Ottaviano Augusto.
From a historical point of view instead, the presence of the Marcello family in the social, cultural and political life of Venice has been documented for over 1000 years.
The prestige of the family grew over the centuries until the Great Council (supreme legislative court of Venice) permanently closed the list of families which from that moment on (year 1297) may refer to the highest political offices, including the Marcellos. This amounts to hereditary participation in administrative body of Venice, which is reserved from that day on only to the most powerful aristocratic families.
Over the times, the Marcellos distinguished themselves in the profession of arms, giving the Republic many famous captains and admirals (also known in Venice as “Capitani da Mar”.
Coat of arms of the Marcello family: a blue layer (the sky) with a golden wave (the sea)
The role of the Marcello family in the history of Venice
1437-1438 | The mad enterprise: Venetian ships attack from the mountains
In the fifteenth century, JACOPO ANTONIO MARCELLO, a great humanist and patron, fought valiantly as Venetian admiral against the Visconti, rulers of Milan. At that time, the army of Milan was besieging many towns of the Veneto and it seemed impossible to counter it by land.
Then, the Venetians decided to carry about 30 ships through the hills that separate the Adige river from Lake Garda to get around the enemy and to fight on the water, their favorite ‘terrain’. The enterprise was bold but the courage was rewarded: the fleet was introduced into the lake and sailed to the south, surprising and beating the enemy troops in Peschiera.
Jacopo Antonio was then contrary to the order to stop the army at that assault, so he chased the Visconti till the walls of Brescia, which was freed in 1438 after a long siege.
1473-1474 | His Serenity, the Doge
The Doge of Venice was the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years.
NICCOLO’ MARCELLO, having been ambassador, became Procurator of San Marco and on 13 August 1473 he was elected Doge. During his reign, a coin was minted which bore his name (Marcella) and was used for many years.
On trade, the family specialized in the import of silk and damask, with a thriving business in many cities of the East as well as in Constantinople. Curious about it is the portrait of Doge Nicolò painted by Titian at the end of 1400 (now at the Vatican Museum) where you see him covered with damask, the precious tissue adopted as the official Doge’s uniform from that point onwards
1484 | The Commander must not die!
Admiral JACOPO MARCELLO drove the Venetian fleet in the conquest of Apulia and died hit by a cannon shot during the capture of Gallipoli in May, 1484. The charisma and the influence he had on the troops was such that his lifeless body was kept standing upright with two wooden poles stuck in his back, so the army did not realize his death and saw him at the head of the fleet to achieve of victory, which came after three attacks.
1656 | The battle of the Dardanelles. Final fight between Venetians and Turks
LORENZO MARCELLO, commander of the Venetian fleet in the bloody battle of the Dardanelles, scored against the Turks the most important victory that the army had achieved after the war of Lepanto.
At the command of 24 galleys and 20 caravelles, prevented to Turkish army to leave the Sea of Marmara and then blocking the strait he attacked and defeated the enemy. He lost his life in this violent battle hit by a cannon on bridge.
Even in this case the death of the admiral was concealed to the troops until victory.
1686-1739 | Benedetto, a tireless and sublime composer
In the genealogy of the family also appear two well-known musicians, the brothers Alessandro and BENEDETTO MARCELLO.
The latter, considered the founder of modern music and called ‘the prince of sacred music‘, was among the most acclaimed composers and writers of his time, so much so that the music conservatory in Venice bears his name.
Benedetto didn’t dedicate himself exclusively to music, being also writer, lawyer, teacher, magistrate and administrator in Pula and Brescia with commitment and success.
His most important works are the impressive collection of 50 psalms, entitled ‘Estro poetico armonico ‘, several sonatas for flute, cello and harpsichord and the famous satirical book ‘Il Teatro alla moda’.
The Marcello family, today
Today, a part of the family still lives in Venice, while some members live in the mainland areas of Padua and Treviso.
Count Vettor Marcello and his family live at Ca’ Marcello, which was inherited through generations and became first of all their private home, and then also the centre of their interests, life and business.
When Count Vettor and his wife Carlotta decided to move from Treviso and to settle down here in the country side, their children Jacopo and Niccolò were aged 6 and 2.
Since the beginning, the Marcellos understood the great efforts that would have been necessary to preserve and maintain this villa as a private, alive and shiny home, but they always felt the deep responsibility of it and at the same time felt the unique privilege to live in such a wonderful and welcoming ambient. As part of a glorious family, the Marcellos recognize their noble origins by keeping alive tradition while facing to nowadays world and life-style.
In the latest ten years many things changed for the four components of the family: Count Vettor began opening the house to groups of private visitors – mostly members of cultural associations located all over the world – who were interested in having a real experience of being guests of a private historical home and its family’s daily life.
This was a successful idea, and briefly were followed by another one: opening the house to organize cultural events, such as expositions or small congresses, and finally private and refined receptions.
This was a perfect match between letting other people admire a part of the magnificent beauties that the villa preserves – the beautiful stucco-works, frescoes and furniture especially made in the 18th century for this house – and earning enough to continue maintaining it properly.
Countess Carlotta put her experience in interior decoration – which has been her main activity for years – to restore numerous sides of the house and pieces of furniture. With strength and passion she gave continuous impulse to the family’s purpose: to exalt the cultural and educational potential of reconciling history and tradition with present times.
Since 2000, their son Jacopo Marcello has continued to manage the business, making Ca’ Marcello one of the most relevant historic residences in the Veneto. In addition to developing new services for tourists and visitors, he brought the brand online and heavily digitized it. Today, many travelers from all over the world stay in the exclusive Barchessa apartment or organize their fairytale wedding in this venue.