Before making the arrest of Casanova, the authorities of the Venetian Republic had been following him for several years in order to know the most secret and intimate details of his life. He was in bad shape. The thirty-year-old son of the actors, whose profession was considered despicable, a priest who refused to be a dignitary, a kabbalist, a crook, a player, a libertine ... One of the denunciations to Kazanova said: what he does not believe in religion, and can easily enter into the confidence of people and deceive them ... Communicating with the above-mentioned Casanova, you acknowledge that he combines disbelief, deception, lust and lust to the extent that it inspires terror. In Venice, people with a similar reputation were treated very suspiciously and, at the slightest opportunity, tried to isolate them from society. Casanova himself gave the secret police a reason to send him to jail when he entered into relations with a foreign ambassador, the French abbot de Bernie, which was severely punished in Venice. The last straw in the patience of the Most Serene Republic was a play written by Casanova in verse, where obscene erotic scenes side by side with stories from Holy Scripture.
Casanova was arrested on July 26, 1755. They came for him early in the morning, seized all personal papers and later charged with “publicly insulting the holy religion”. In custody, Casanova was escorted to prison, from which not a single prisoner escaped.
Prison cell in Piombi
In Piombi, convicts were held in extremely difficult conditions. From Italian the name of the prison is translated as “lead”, since the roof of its buildings is covered with lead plates. In winter, they allowed ice air to reign in the chamber, and in the summer they heated under the rays of the sun and created unbearable heat. The prison was opened in the attic of the east wing of the Doge’s Palace in 1591. It had six chambers, separated by strong partitions. In one of them, with an area of just under 16 square meters, it turned out to be Giacomo Casanova.
At first, the “great lover” believed that his conclusion was a misunderstanding caused by the machinations of his enemies, and that he would soon be released. Not a minute did he imagine himself guilty of something, and in fury he dreamed of revenge. Days went by, and Casanova sat in the dungeons. The rats scurrying around made him mad. From the heat buzzed skin, constantly wanted to drink. Intellectual torture was added to physical torture - Casanova was deprived of books (later this prohibition was lifted), paper and ink. But the most unbearable was to be in constant ignorance about the term of his imprisonment. This is another Saditskaya torture prepared by inquisitors. Only they knew that Giacomo Casanova should spend five years in Piombi.
But Casanova would not be one of the most desperate adventurers of his era, if he had dutifully waited for his fate. When he began to guess that he would spend behind bars for many years, his escape plan began to ripen in his brain. Casanova decides to make a hole in the floor of his cell. For this, he used a piece of marble and a long bolt, which he accidentally discovered during his daily half-hour walk. Winding the bolt with a piece of marble, Casanova got a sharp tool to drill a hole in the floor under the bed. Began a long, hard work. On August 23, this multi-month process was successfully completed. Casanova planned to escape a few days later, descending at night through a hole in the inquisitors' room. However, something unexpected happened. Casanove was announced that he was being transferred to another cell, brighter, more spacious and with a view of the city. With horror and despair, he had to leave his dungeon. The hole was discovered by a guard who was going to report everything to the authorities. However, Casanova promised to accuse the guard that he himself secretly delivered the necessary tools. The guardian frightened and retreated. As a result, Casanova found himself in a new cell with his own sharpening and thoughts about a new way to escape from the Venetian prison.
Bridge of Sighs leading to Piombi
Here he, with the help of a long fingernail on his little finger and black juice of mulberry berries, began to correspond with another convict, the priest Marino Balbi. The unsuspecting guard became their intermediary in the exchange of books in which they hid notes addressed to each other. Cunning Casanova gave the wedge he sharpened his accomplice. He punched a hole in the ceiling of his cell and made a hole in the attic. It remained only to make a hole in the ceiling of Casanova, but he suddenly had a cellmate, and the matter had to be postponed.
Finally, the frantic adventurer found a way to circle the scammer who was thrown into his cell. Having estimated that he was devoutly into a frenzy, he assured him that an angel would soon come down to their cell, who would rescue them from prison. The angel in the form of a monk Balbi really went down to their room on the eve of All Saints' Day - October 31, 1756. This time was not chosen by chance. On November 1, in honor of the holiday, there were no inquisitors or office staff in the palazzo. On a rope from the sheets of Casanova and his accomplice climbed onto the roof of the Doge's Palace, leaving his cellmates who did not dare to escape. Reaching the ridge of the roof, the fugitives began to think about how they would go down, unnoticed. Having overcome many obstacles, they penetrated the dormer window into the room, thanks to which they found themselves in the office of the Palace already in the morning. Making a hole in the door, Casanova and Balbi went out into the corridor, which led them to the staircase gate. They were so strong and heavy that it was impossible to cope with them. Casanova told his comrade that he would sit here and wait until the door was opened.
Illustration to Casanova's story about his escape
During a forced respite, Casanova changed his clothes and bandaged his wounds. He looked like a man who "after the ball turned up in hot places and was pretty battered there." Satisfied with his appearance, he looked out the window. Passers-by saw him and told the house keeper that he, a bungler, had locked two visitors to the Palace. The gatekeeper opened the door and the accomplices, without saying a word, fled down the Staircase of the Giants and left the Palazzo Ducale through the front gates. Catching the first gondola that came to them, Casanova ordered to head for Mestre, the mainland city of the Republic. Awareness of freedom fell on the fugitive. "Suddenly, my heart, choking with an excess of happiness, found its way to relief in heavy tears," writes Casanova in "The Story of My Life." “I was crying, I was crying like a child who is being forced to school”.
The story of Casanova about the escape from Piombi looks so fantastic that even contemporaries refused to believe in him, especially since his author had the reputation of an incorrigible boaster. Nowadays it seems even more incredible, but the Venetian archives contain enough documents confirming the words of the Venetian seducer. First of all, these are repair bills made in the chambers of Casanova and his accomplice, as well as on the roof of the Doge's Palace.
More surprising is the fact that Casanova managed to return to Venice after eighteen years of exile, in 1774. The laws of the Republic were such that once they ran away criminally, they no longer returned to it on pain of death. And yet the adventurous abilities of Casanova made it possible to overcome this barrier, which arose between him and his native city. True, in 1783 he had to flee the city again. Now forever. But this, as they say, is another story.