Palazzo on the Grand Canal

Michael James O-Brien

In a private top-floor apartment in the Aman Canal Grande Venice, Count Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga’s treasure trove of antiques and family artifacts offers a true glimpse of life inside Venice's most important residence.

Count Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga (“Gibi” to friends) and Countess Bianca’s attic apartment in Palazzo Papadopoli on Venice’s Grand Canal is a visual testament to their work as keepers of the family archive. Brimming with art, furniture, engraved glass and silver objects (many designed by Gibi him­self), the imposing 16th-century residence changed hands several times before it was acquired in 1864 by the Papadopoli family and turned into a neo-Renaissance masterpiece. By way of inheritance (Gibi’s grandfather was a Papadopoli), the palazzo came to the Arrivabenes; Gibi spent his childhood days in the salons of the Giambattista Tiepolo–frescoed piano nobile. He, Bianca and their five children have made their home upstairs since the ’80s, as various businesses have occupied the lower floors.

Even so, maintaining a 50,000-square-foot palace is no small task, and last June the palazzo became the Aman Canal Grande Venice after Gibi agreed to rent the property to Aman founder Adrian Zecha for 30 years—with one stipulation: that the Arrivabenes remain in their unassuming fifth-floor home as guardians of the family’s noble legacy atop the new age hotel. Herewith, a peek inside Il Palazzo Papadopoli.

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