Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni

The Ridotto: the first Public Casino

by Pietro Longhi and his circle - 1701(2)-1785

The name RIDOTTO comes from the idea of "ridurre", to reduce in Italian.

The Ridotto (Private Room) is still today how is called the Theater Foyer, and it was born with this idea, at the time there were refreshments in the intermissions.

The Ridotto was structured in 4 stories, with a long entrance and dinig rooms, and the gaming tables were located at the upper floors.

Illegal gambling was nothing new for Venetians, and they were finding a way of doing in private locations not officially allowed, but ...

The situation was getting quite out of control, and already in 1576 the Consiglio dei Dieci had created a law with heavy penalties for these "clubs", but the number of these locations kept going up.

At a certain point the "Ridotto experience" started and ended: 1638-1774, but the gambling world kept turning around.

Just to have an idea of how Venetians were obsecated with gambling: in the year 1774 - when the Ridotto was closed down - there were exactly 118 casinos in Venice on a population of about 140 thousand individuals.

Pietro Longhi: "Il Ridotto" (detail)
Pietro Longhi: "Il Ridotto"
oil on canvas (ca. 1750)

Circle of Pietro Longhi: "Il Ridotto" - oil on canvas (mid 18th century)
Circle of Pietro Longhi: "Il Ridotto"
oil on canvas (mid 18th century)

Copyright by Roberto Delpiano 1997-2022 - visit my website www.delpiano.com