Venetian architectural style and characteristics

The floating city of Venice is renowned for its Gothic art and architecture. The city was largely safe from riot, civil feuds, and invasion much earlier than most European cities. These factors, with the canals and the great wealth of the city, made for unique building styles. Due to its location on the marshy Venetian Lagoon, the entire architecture of the city is designed intelligently, making it unique from any other styles of architecture in Europe.

Venice has a rich and diverse architectural style, the most prominent of which is the Gothic style. The style originated in 14th-century Venice, with a confluence of Byzantine style from Constantinople, Islamic influences from Spain and Venice’s eastern trading partners, and early Gothic forms from mainland Italy. Originating in the 14th century, Gothic architecture has three different types including Byzantine and Islamic influence, secular Gothic, and religious Gothic.

This architectural style was particularly necessary for Venice because buildings and homes had to be built above the canals. And Venetian Gothic style of architecture allowed the structures to be set on closely spaced wooden piles in order to make a sturdy base in the water. Chief examples of the style are the Doge’s Palace and the Ca’ d’Oro in the city. The city also has several Renaissance and Baroque buildings, including the Ca’ Pesaro and the Ca’ Rezzonico.

Venetian taste was conservative and Renaissance architecture only really became popular in buildings from about the 1470s. More than in the rest of Italy, it kept much of the typical form of the Gothic palazzi, which had evolved to suit Venetian conditions. In turn the transition to Baroque architecture was also fairly gentle. This gives the crowded buildings on the Grand Canal and elsewhere an essential harmony, even where buildings from very different periods sit together. For example, round-topped arches are far more common in Renaissance buildings than elsewhere.

Venice is a dream destination for many. Between the one-of-a-kind canals, incredible historic and cultural offerings, and beautiful architecture style. The many types of architecture that has gone into some of Venice’s most recognisable buildings throughout the centuries. It’s this architecture that partly makes Venice so unique and different compared to other European cities.

Venice has completed more than 1,500 restoration projects in the last 40 years. Today, the city is open to a broader range of styles, striving to maintain a harmonious mix of old and new architecture.

Religious architectures
There are countless churches worthy of note that can be found in the lagoon city, both for their architectural merits and for the artistic treasures contained therein. Among the most important are the octagonal Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, with its imposing dome that stands out at the entrance to the Grand Canal and the famous and majestic Basilica of San Marco, the city’s cathedral and seat of the Patriarch and the Patriarchate of Venice, located in the homonymous square, next to the Doge’s Palace.

Among other important religious buildings, we have: the basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, the church of San Francesco della Vigna, the church of San Zaccaria, the basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the church del Redentore, the latter built on the Giudecca island on a project by Andrea Palladio, and the basilica of San Pietro di Castello which has two chapels by Veronese.

Venice is full of noble palaces, overlooking fields, streets, canals and canals, ancient residences of the richest Venetian families of the golden age of the city. Apart from schools and institutional buildings such as the Doge’s Palace, almost all the buildings are identified with the name of the family that founded them or that most left their mark on them.

Among the most famous Palazzo Fortuny, in Gothic style donated to the city of Venice by the widow of the Spanish artist Mariano Fortuny, Palazzo Grassi, the work of Giorgio Massari, Palazzo Mocenigo with a Renaissance-style facade, Palazzo Grimani, owned by the state and seat of the Court of Appeal and Palazzo Loredan in Gothic style. Two or more families are often mentioned in the name such as Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, or Palazzo Gritti-Badoer, or the branch of the family is specified.

Many private residences instead keep the traditional denomination Ca ‘, which indicated the name of the family and the building: for example Ca’ Foscari, seat of the homonymous city university, Ca ‘Corner, designed in the 16th century by Jacopo Sansovino, Ca’ Rezzonico, in the Dorsoduro district and the work of Longhena, Palazzo Balbi, seat of the President and of the Regional Council of the Veneto Region, Ca ‘Pesaro, Ca’ Tron, Ca ‘Vendramin Calergi and Ca’ Dario.

Due to its conformation, Venice has 435 public and private bridges that connect the 118 islets on which it is built, crossing 176 canals. Most of them are built of stone, other common materials are wood and iron. The longest is the Ponte della Libertà which crosses the Venetian lagoon, connecting the city with the mainland and thus allowing vehicular traffic.

The main canal that cuts through the city, the Grand Canal, is crossed by four bridges: the Rialto bridge is the oldest (built around the sixteenth century ); the Accademia bridge; the Scalzi bridge, the latter built under the Habsburg domination and rebuilt in the twentieth century, and finally the Constitution bridge, built in 2008 on a project by the architect Santiago Calatrava.

Another symbol of the city is the Rialto bridge: the work of Antonio Da Ponte, it was built in 1591. It was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot: in fact, it remained the only bridge until 1854, when the Accademia bridge was built (to which the Scalzi bridge and the Constitution bridge were later added ). On the sides of the central body there are luxury shops while, at the end of the bridge, in the San Polo district, there are the fruit and vegetable market, the covered building of the fish market and the church of San Giacomo di Rialto.

Furthermore, one of the most famous bridges in Venice is the Bridge of Sighs. Made of Istrian stone in the seventeenth century on a project by the architect Antonio Contin, it connects the Palazzo Ducale with the New Prisons.

Venice at the time of the Serenissima had many theaters, for both musical and dramaturgical or comedy performances, many of which housed in patrician palaces, such as the small theater of Palazzo Grassi renovated in 2013 or in factories of undoubted interest architectural, such as the eighteenth-century La Fenice Theater (1792), the Goldoni Theater (dating back to 1622, although completely renovated in the seventies ) and the Malibran Theater (1678).

Venetian Gothic structures offer important lessons on the benefits of mixing styles. In addition to the Gothic style, the Venice hosts influences from the Byzantine and Moorish styles that were popular with traders who visited Venice from the East. The pointed or inflected arches that are common in Venation design are unquestionably a product of Moorish culture.

Byzantine Arch Influence
Dating back to the time period between the years 900-1300, Byzantine influence was the first type of architectural design used by the Venetians. Not only did it pave the way for tall and skinny structures with rounded arches at the top, but also brought a classic yet simplistic influence with shimmery textures! This type of architecture also included galleries above the aisles, a central dome and impost blocks. These features were all decorated in detailed golden mosaics. A good example of this architecture is the central dome of Basilica San Marco.

Islamic Influence
The Islamic style of architecture came to Venice in 1300-1500 and was the first type of gothic architecture. While the design was highly outrageous and ornate, it was primarily used to bring lightness and grace to the structure, with the main indication of gothic architecture being in its pointed arches. The architects never added more weight than was necessary to support a building because they believed every inch of the city was valuable. Secular gothic was another type of architecture that included inflected arches and was purely decorative rather than structural. You can witness the main influence of the Islamic architecture in the pointed arches and rib vaults that were used to cover large interior space in a building. Another example of this Islamic influence can be seen in the Ca’D’Ore Palace, built in 1428, on the Grand Canal.

Secular and Religious Gothic Architecture
The last style of the Gothic arch was religious gothic, which followed Western gothic architecture and is indicated by minimal decoration and pointed arches. A good example of this architecture is the Santa Maria Gloria dei Frari located in the Campo dei Frari at the heart of the San Polo district. It was originally built in the mid-13th century and then rebuilt in Gothic style in the 15th. It contains many important pieces of Venetian Renaissance art by notable artists like Bellini and Titan.

Venetian Gothic architecture
Venetian Gothic is the term used for the particular form of Italian Gothic architecture typical of Venice, originating in local building requirements, with some influence from Byzantine architecture, and some from Islamic architecture, reflecting Venice’s trading network. Very unusually for medieval architecture, the style is both at its most characteristic in secular buildings, and the great majority of survivals are secular.

Colours were another important element to Venetian architecture. They mostly included dark reds, muted yellows, and bright blues. During the Renaissance, however, people preferred softer, more neutral colours. Plaster was mixed with marble dust and applied in very thin, multiple layers to create a smooth, polished surface. Sometimes it was left unpolished, to give the building a rough, stone-like look. The motive behind these techniques was to create the illusion of depth and texture. These aspects and features can still be appreciated today by the array of architectural marvels scattered around the city.

The best-known examples are the Doge’s Palace and the Ca’ d’Oro. Both feature loggias of closely spaced small columns, with heavy tracery with quatrefoil openings above, decoration along the roofline, and some coloured patterning to plain wall surfaces. Together with the ogee arch, capped with a relief ornament, and ropework reliefs, these are the most iconic characteristics of the style. Ecclesiastical Gothic architecture tended to be less distinctively Venetian, and closer to that in the rest of Italy.

The beginning of the style probably goes back no further than the 13th century, although the dates of early Gothic palaces, and especially features such as windows in them, are largely uncertain. It dominated the 14th century and because of the city’s conservatism Venetian Gothic buildings, especially smaller palaces, continued to be built well into the second half of the 15th century, and Venetian Renaissance architecture very often retained reminiscences of its Gothic predecessor.

In the 19th century, inspired in particular by the writings of John Ruskin, there was a revival of the style, part of the broader Gothic Revival movement in Victorian architecture. Even in the Middle Ages, Venetian palaces were built on very constricted sites, and were tall rectangular boxes with decoration concentrated on the front facade. The style was therefore developed for a similar architectural context to that found in late 19th-century city centre streets.

The Gothic Period arrived in Venice during a time of great affluence, when the upper class was funding the building of new churches as well as new, opulent homes for themselves. At the same time, the religious orders were beginning to bring the Gothic style to Venice’s churches from mainland Italy. The most striking examples of this new architectural fashion can be seen in Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the Frari.

However, these churches were still very similar to those found in the rest of Italy, the main difference being the building materials. It was not until the increase in palace construction, that Venetian Gothic became a distinct style in itself. Influenced by the Doge’s Palace, the creators of this new style meshed Gothic, Byzantine, and Oriental themes to produce a totally unique approach to architecture.

Unlike the palaces or houses of wealthy families in other Italian cities, defence was not a major concern for Venetian palaces, which in any cases often had “moats” on some sides. The crowded city centre encouraged building high by the standards of the period, and the main access for light was often from the front facade, which therefore typically has more and larger windows than palaces elsewhere.

Most palaces doubled as places of business, on the ground floor, and homes above. The ground floors, which even when built were probably rather prone to periodic flooding, have relatively few rooms, and a rather grand stairway leading to the residential upper floors, where ceilings are rather low by the standards of palaces. The portico on a canal allowed goods to be loaded and unloaded, and led to a large space called the androne, where they were stored and business transacted. By the 13th century porticos at the front were often abandoned, and replaced by one or more large doorways leading to the androne.

Upstairs, the portego or salone was another large room, centrally placed and usually “T”-shaped, received light from the windows and was the main space for dining and entertaining. To the rear an open staircase led to a small courtyard with a well-head and often a rear door to the street. In fact there are no true wells in Venice, and the well-head led down to a cistern sealed from the salty groundwater, which collected rainwater from the roof and courtyard through stone gutters leading to a sand filter system and the cistern.

The ogee arch was at the start of the stylistic development of the Venetian Gothic arch, rather than in the middle or at the end, as elsewhere. Round arches began to sprout points on their outer rim, while initially remaining circular on the inside. But neat progressions of style are not always reflected in actual buildings, and a variety of styles can sometimes be seen in a particular period, and in the same building.

The ogee arch is “relatively uncommon in ecclesiastical buildings”, where a more conventional Italian Gothic was adopted (and there are fewer survivals). Conversely, conventional Gothic arches are seen in palaces “only in the most solid elements”. Because the unstable ground discouraged vaulting, the “structural raison d’etre of Gothic architecture – to allow the erection of higher and higher vaults, with more flexibility in ground-plan – was completely irrelevant in Venice”.

In Northern Europe, traceries only supported stained glass. In contrast, traceries in Venetian Gothic supported the weight of the entire building. Therefore, the relative weight sustained by the traceries alludes to the relative weightlessness of the buildings as a whole. This (and the associated reduced use of weight-bearing walls) gives the Venetian Gothic architectural style lightness and grace in structure.

The Venetian Gothic, while far more intricate in style and design than previous construction types in Venice, never allowed more weight or size than necessary to support the building. Venice had always held the concern that every inch of land is valuable, because of the canals running through the city.

One major aspect of the Venetian Gothic style change that came about during the 14th and 15th centuries was the proportion of the central hall in secular buildings. This hall, known as the portego, evolved into a long passageway that was often opened by a loggia with Gothic arches. Architects favored using intricate traceries, similar to those found on the Doge’s Palace. The most iconic Venetian Gothic structure, the Doge’s Palace, is a luxuriously decorated building that includes traits of Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance architectural styles. In the 14th century, following two fires that destroyed the previous structure, the palace was rebuilt in its present, recognizably Gothic form.

The influence of Islamic architecture is reflected in some features of the Venetian style, in particular the use of colour and pattern on outside walls, and sometimes stone grills on windows, and perhaps purely decorative crenellations on rooflines. During the period the Venetian economy was heavily bound up with trade with both the Islamic world and the Byzantine Empire, and the architectural styles of these two are somewhat entangled, especially in the early Islamic period.

As an example, decorating walls with large veneers of fancy coloured marble or other stones, which was certainly a Venetian taste, was also found in Byzantine and Islamic architecture, but both had derived it from imperial Roman architecture. There are still examples in Ravenna (ruled by Venice from 1440 to 1509), Milan as well as Rome, and very likely much of the stripping of these from other surviving Roman buildings had not yet taken place.

Venetians may also have regarded some aspects of Byzantine and Islamic architecture as reflecting the world of Early Christianity – all over Italy “eastern” costume very often served for biblical figures in art, and the paintings of some Venetians, for example St Mark Preaching at Alexandria by Gentile Bellini (c. 1505) also use clearly Islamic architecture (including stone grills), although also reflecting the Byzantine styles of Constantinople, which Bellini visited in 1479, only some twenty-five years after it became the Ottoman capital. There were also Venetian connections with Islamic styles though Sicily and southern Italy, and possibly al-Andalus (Islamic Spain). Venetians probably saw the eastern elements in their architecture in a complex way, reflecting and celebrating both their history and the cause of their trade-derived wealth.

Venetian traders, and those of rival cities, reached into Persia and Central Asia in the Pax Mongolica after the Mongol conquests, from roughly 1240 to 1360. There were small Venetian colonies of merchants in Alexandria, as well as Constantinople. Venice’s relations with the Byzantine Empire were still more intimate and complicated, involving many wars, treaties, and massacres.

The style was revived in the 19th century, largely through the influence of British architectural critic John Ruskin and his treatise The Stones of Venice. Because of the shortage of space in Venice, most palazzi were high (by medieval standards) rectangular boxes, with an ornamented facade, but very often plain on the other external elevations. Nor did they have space-wasting courtyards. Hence the basic shape suited 19th-century requirements very well, and the Venetian-ness of the style appeared mainly in the elaborate windows, cornice and other decoration to the facade.

Venetian Renaissance architecture
Venetian Renaissance architecture began rather later than in Florence, not really before the 1480s, and throughout the period mostly relied on architects imported from elsewhere in Italy. The city was very rich during the period, and prone to fires, so there was a large amount of building going on most of the time, and at least the facades of Venetian buildings were often particularly luxuriantly ornamented.

The Renaissance period between the years 1500-1600, made way for the most revolutionary type of Gothic architecture, presenting arched windows and some classic designs based on geometry and columns. Unlike their traditional counterparts, the Renaissance buildings were not always balanced. One fine example of this type of structures is the Palazzo Grimani with its columns and semi-circle arches on the outside. The most famous example of Venetian Gothic architecture though is Venice’s renown Doge’s Palace. A popular tourist attraction and impressive building, Doge’s Palace includes a mix of Gothic, Morrish and Renaissance architectural styles.

Compared to the Renaissance architecture of other Italian cities, there was a degree of conservatism, especially in retaining the overall form of buildings, which in the city were usually replacements on a confined site, and in windows, where arched or round tops, sometimes with a classicized version of the tracery of Venetian Gothic architecture, remained far more heavily used than in other cities. The Doge’s Palace was much rebuilt after fires, but mostly behind the Gothic facades.

The Venetian elite had a collective belief in the importance of architecture in bolstering confidence in the Republic, and a Senate resolution in 1535 noted that it was “the most beautiful and illustrious city which at present exists in the world”. At the same time, overt competition between patrician families was discouraged, in favour of “harmonious equality”, which applied to buildings as to other areas, and novelty for its own sake, or to recapture the glories of antiquity, was regarded with suspicion. Though visitors admired the rich ensembles, Venetian architecture did not have much influence beyond the republic’s own possessions before Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), whose style of Palladian architecture became hugely influential some time.

Mauro Codussi (1440–1504) from Lombardy was one of the first architects to work in a Renaissance style in Venice, with his son Domenico assisting him and carrying on his practice after his death. His works in public buildings include the upper storeys of San Zaccaria, Venice, San Giovanni Grisostomo (begun 1497), Santa Maria Formosa (begun 1492), and the Procuratie Vecchie on the Piazza San Marco. He probably designed St Mark’s Clocktower (from 1495), and worked with sculptors to rebuild the Scuola Grande di San Marco after a fire in 1485. A fire in 1483 destroyed the east wing of the Doge’s Palace, and Codussi won the competition to replace it, producing completely different designs for the facades facing into the courtyard and the outside. His palazzi include Ca’ Vendramin Calergi (begun 1481) and Palazzo Zorzi Galeoni. His work respects and alludes to many elements of the Venetian Gothic, and harmonizes well with it.

Jacopo Sansovino (1486–1570), also an important sculptor, his first project in Venice, Palazzo Gritti, was never built as his plans, though brilliant, were considered too full of exhibitionist novelties; he had failed to grasp the ideology of the sober and restrained magnificence required by Venetian patricians. His plan to stabilize the domes of San Marco, which had long given trouble, by wrapping iron bands around them, “made his reputation”. Before long he found a style that satisfied Venetian patrons and was “definitive for the entire subsequent history of Venetian architecture”. He created the appearance of much of the area around the Piazza San Marco beyond Basilica of San Marco itself, designing the Biblioteca Marciana (1537 onwards) and mint or “Zecca” on the Piazzetta di San Marco. His palazzi include Palazzo Corner della Ca’ Grande (1532 onwards) and Palazzo Dolfin Manin from 1536.

The Biblioteca Marciana is considered his “undoubted masterpiece”, and a key work in Venetian Renaissance architecture. Palladio, who saw it being built, called it “probably the richest ever built from the days of ancients up to now”, and it has been described by Frederick Hartt as “surely one of the most satisfying structures in Italian architectural history”. It has an extremely prominent site, with the long facade facing the Doge’s Palace across the Piazzetta di San Marco, and the shorter sides facing the lagoon and the Piazza San Marco.

Michele Sanmicheli (1484–1559) was hired by the state as a military architect. Most of his work was fortifications and military or naval buildings around the Venetian territories, especially in Verona, but he also built a number of palaces that are very original, and take Venetian architecture into Mannerism. His work in Verona represents a group of buildings defining the city in a way comparable to Palladio’s in Vicenza. The Palazzo Bevilacqua in Verona (begun 1529) is the most famous of these.

The principal architect of the later Venetian Renaissance, was Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), who was also the key figure in later Italian Renaissance architecture, and its most important writer on architecture. But apart from the two large churches of San Giorgio Maggiore (1566 on), and Il Redentore (1577 on), he designed relatively little in the city itself, for a number of reasons. He designed many villas in the Veneto, in Vicenza and a series of famous country houses, relatively small compared to some further south, for the Venetian elite. Palladio’s style was later developed in the Palladian architecture of both Britain and the American colonies, and his Venetian window, with a central arched top, took a very Venetian element around the world. The World Heritage Site of the City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto includes 23 buildings in the city, and 24 country villas.

The so-called Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza, begun in 1549, is a series of facades with loggias encasing the large Gothic public hall of the city, used for purposes such as law courts, where his elaborated version of the Venetian window first appears; this is called a Palladian window or “Palladian motif”. Here it appears in both storeys, which is less common when it has been copied. The building draws on Sansovino’s Biblioteca Marciana, but is “more severely architectonic, less reliant on sculpture, and at the same time more flexible”. In the Palazzo Chiericati, begun in 1551, there are again two storeys of loggias, but the facade is divided vertically into three parts by advancing the upper storey in the centre.

Vincenzo Scamozzi (1548–1616) from Vicenza only moved to Venice in 1581, the year after Palladio’s death. He designed the Procuratie Nuove on the Piazza San Marco, and completed many projects Palladio had left incomplete. His pupil Baldassare Longhena (1598–1682), who was for a change born in the city, in turn completed Scamozzi’s projects and, while he introduced a full-blown Baroque architecture to Venice, many buildings, especially palaces, continued to develop a Baroque form of the Venetian Renaissance style.

Venetian villa
The Venetian villa is a type of patrician residence founded by the patriciate of the Republic of Venice and developed in the agricultural areas of the Domini di Terraferma between the end of the 15th century and the 19th century. In this period of time, more than four thousand Venetian villas were built, many of which are still preserved and protected by the Veneto Ville Regional Institute; the areas affected by the presence of these buildings are the whole of Veneto, in particular the Riviera del Brenta, and some plains of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

The typical structure of the Venetian villa is set in a large agricultural property. At the center of the complex of properties is the central architectural body (Villa or dominical house or farmhouse), the owners’ residence (elaborated and decorated as a place of representation), as well as a summer resort; most of the villas had no winter heating and kitchen systems. Next to the house intended for the master’s residence, there were buildings dedicated to agricultural work: warehouses, greenhouses, etc.

In Veneto a particular typology was born: the barchessa, a unitary construction, generally elongated that collected goods and equipment. It was a great innovation, because it gave a courtly architectural form to needs until then considered unworthy of honor. The extraordinary architectural structure favored the flowering of all the decorative arts connected with architecture: sculpture, painting, fresco decoration and cabinet-making, garden art, water regulation necessary for the regulation of fountains and ponds.

In the sixteenth century, with the architect Andrea Palladio, he formed a specific type of Venetian villas (24 villas), identified as the Palladian villa: the Palladian Villas of Veneto were included in the list of world heritage of ‘ UNESCO.

They are linked to the names of great architects such as Andrea Palladio, Vincenzo Scamozzi, Giovanni Maria Falconetto, Jacopo Sansovino, and of extraordinary artists such as Veronese, Tiepolo, Zelotti.

The Venetian conquest of the Veneto-Friuli mainland, which took place between the 14th and 15th centuries, led to an increasing interest in the Venetian-Venetian aristocracy for landed possessions. The large properties were accompanied by large investments in agriculture, often derived from the mercantile income of families, but which were then remunerated by the productivity of the estates.

the Venetian villa, in which both the aesthetics and grandeur of the noble residence and the buildings necessary for the management of the surrounding estate were placed side by side: therefore, unlike other systems of villas, it had a double function, both of representation and leisure, and of production center. This development took place, also thanks to the Venetian mercantile fortunes. In this way, that Venetian need to return to the mainland and the countryside was also satisfied, which, in a city made up of narrow streets and lagoon horizons, had almost become a myth.

The development of the Venetian Villas coincides with the centuries of the long peace ensured on the mainland by the Republic of Venice. They represented widespread centers of agricultural, artisan, cultural and civil economic development, in an area where safety and excellent land and river connections were guaranteed.

Starting from these architectures, the Venetian nobility began the conversion into a villa, adding over time a growing number of stylistic elements typical of the architecture of the city, to develop a model that has its apex in the Palladian residences; thus the urban model and the rural model go to graft a cultural exchange that has continued over the centuries: the Venetian style is exported to the elegant residences of the mainland, while the love for the countryside and for the hilly horizons influences above all the sixteenth-century art of Venice.

After a first period of real agronomic commitment in the area, the villa became a fashion, spreading to the point that noble families spent gigantic wealth to build villas to be used only in summer, from the eve of the feast of Sant’Antonio di Padova. The building of the villa lost its rustic connotations, increasing in size, equaling the internal splendor of the city palaces; was also enriched with vast lush gardens of exotic plants and hedges pruned to design, where complex water features were created, tending in everything to rival international models such as the palace of Versailles of theking of France to whom some wealthy landowners intended to be equated, at times consuming the entire family fortune.

Venetian Rococo style
It can be argued that Venice produced the best and most refined Rococo designs. At the time, the Venetian economy was in decline. It had lost most of its maritime power, was lagging behind its rivals in political importance, and its society had become decadent, with tourism increasingly the mainstay of the economy. But Venice remained a centre of fashion.

Venetian rococo was well known as rich and luxurious, with usually very extravagant designs. Unique Venetian furniture types included the divani da portego, and long rococo couches and pozzetti, objects meant to be placed against the wall. Bedrooms of rich Venetians were usually sumptuous and grand, with rich damask, velvet, and silk drapery and curtains, and beautifully carved rococo beds with statues of putti, flowers, and angels.

Venice was especially known for its beautiful girandole mirrors, which remained among, if not the, finest in Europe. Chandeliers were usually very colourful, using Murano glass to make them look more vibrant and stand out from others; and precious stones and materials from abroad were used, since Venice still held a vast trade empire. Lacquer was very common, and many items of furniture were covered with it, the most noted being lacca povera, in which allegories and images of social life were painted. Lacquerwork and Chinoiserie were particularly common in bureau cabinets.