Did you know…

Casanova had 124 lovers, nearly all women, and eleven instances of venereal disease. He wrote about it all in graphic detail. (I think this makes 50 Shades of Grey pale in comparison.) Many were nuns, and one or two of his lovers might have been his own daughters. He never married.

Casanova is the only person ever to have escaped from I Piombi – the Leads – in the Palace of the Doges in Venice, and wrote a bestseller about his dramatic exploit.

Casanova’s mother, Zanetta Farussi, was a celebrated actress and courtesan in her lifetime, far more famous than her errant son.

Casanova, a lifelong gambler, arrived in Paris virtually penniless after his escape, and eventually talked the French crown into establishing a lottery that sustained the Ecole militaire and French monarchy until 1789. (Among the first students was Napoleon.) He became rich from the lottery, and lost his fortune in ill-considered business ventures.

Casanova trained as a priest in Padua and Rome, and after he left the priesthood, he translated the Iliad into Italian. A bibliophile and Freemason as a well as a libertine, he wrote scores of plays, poems, political and philosophical works, and a history of Poland in addition to his memoirs.

Casanova was the boon companion of Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart’s Venetian-born librettist, and served as a partial inspiration for Mozart’s greatest opera, “Don Giovanni,” (although he objected to Don Juan’s going to Hell at the end).

In Casanova’s era, the 18th century, Venice was considered the most decadent city in Europe, and the center of sex tourism for travelers from England and France. They came to have orgies with daughters of prominent Venetian families confined to the convents, which were in effect seraglios.