Color portrait of the Italian writer and libertine Giacomo Casanova.

Giacomo Casanova

(1725 - 1798)

While serving as a librarian in Bohemia, Giacomo Casanova wrote in the preface to his autobiography, “I begin by informing my reader that for everything good or bad that I have done throughout my life, I am certain I have always earned due approbation or reproof, and must therefore consider myself a free man.” In addition to the libertine escapades for which he is best known, he was imprisoned for practicing magic in Venice in 1755, fought a duel with a Polish count in 1766, and spied for the Venetian government in the early 1770s.

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As a young man, Giacomo Casanova spent his nights roaming through Venice, “thinking up the most scandalous practical jokes and putting them into execution,” he later wrote in his memoirs. “When we could get into bell towers, we thought it great sport to alarm the whole neighborhood by ringing the tocsin that announces a fire, or to cut all the bell ropes…The whole city was complaining of our nocturnal malefactions, and we laughed at the investigations that were made to discover the disturbers of the public peace.”

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