Jail Breaks Lover Casanova Escapes the Leads Part 2

About the jail break of famous lover Casanova from the Leads prison, history of the escape.


Casanova Escapes the Leads-1756

To prevent another escape attempt, Lorenzo examined the wooden walls and the floor daily but paid little attention to the ceiling, which could not be covered and which would show signs of tampering from a distance.

So Casanova decided that the ceiling was his way out. But it had to be breached from the other side, where the work could not be seen. This meant that the cutting must be done by a second prisoner. Casanova decided that his accomplice would be the renegade priest Father Marino Balbi, who occupied the adjoining cell. By an amazingly complicated ruse, Casanova smuggled his sharpened iron bolt to Father Balbi concealed inside a large Bible on which Lorenzo unknowingly took the priest a plate of steaming, butter-covered pasta.

Balbi cut through the ceiling of his cell, crawled over to Casanova's wood-beam-covered cubicle, and set to work. Despite the presence of a spy-cellmate, Casanova and the priest completed the opening on the evening of Oct. 31, 1756, a night when no jailers would be on hand until morning and the rest of the giant governmental building would also be deserted.

The two conspirators then cut through the rotten beams that held up the leaden roof of the Doge's Palace. They pried up one of the thick metal plates and, while waiting for the moon to set at midnight, carefully explored the surface of the roof (which faces down onto the famous Piazza San Marco just above the Bridge of Sighs).

Casanova located a barred window and, using his last ounce of strength, managed to breach it. He lowered Father Balbi onto the floor of the high-ceiling room below by means of a handmade rope and then found a ladder which he used himself to descend.

After a seemingly endless night spent exploring the upper floors of the palace and breaking through a number of doors and windows, the adventurer and the priest found themselves barred from freedom by one last huge metal door which they could not penetrate.

Casanova was wearing the clothing he'd had on his back when he was arrested ("dress made for lovemaking in August," as he described it in the Memoirs). The priest concealed his own prison garb under Casanova's elegant cloak.

When the doorkeeper, who had been alerted by a passerby to the plight of the two men, whom he assumed to be important persons who had been locked in, swung open the last remaining barrier, Casanova and Father Balbi strode coolly and elegantly down the wide "Giants' Staircase," crossed the Piazza San Marco, and hailed a passing gondola. They made their way to the Venetian frontier and crossed over into safety.

The legend of how the great lover had thus outwitted the dread Venetian Inquisition (still disputed by some historians) quickly spread to the great courts of Europe. It helped to make him even more famous-and more sought after by the ladies.

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