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The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice is the result of the joining of five 18th and 19th century palaces. The oldest palace belonged to the Tiepolos, the illustrious Venetian family that gave the city two "doges" and the seventeenth century painter Giambattista Tiepolo.
One of the palaces was home to the San Moisè Theatre, which operated under this name till 1818. The first performance of "La Cambiale di Matrimonio", the first opera composed by the young Rossini, took place here on November 3rd, 1810. The theatre was later named the Minerva Theatre, where performances of every kind, including marionette shows and movies at the end of the century, took place. There is in fact an inscription which reads: "Here stood the Teatro Minerva, previously San Moisè, where on the evening of July 9th, 1896, the Venetian public saw the first projection of the Lumière Brothers' films."
By the 19th century Palazzo Tiepolo and the buildings that face the lovely courtyard on the Grand Canal had already been converted into a hotel. Initially operated under the name Hotel Barbesi (1868), it was later known as the Hotel Britannia (1881). The owner and manager was a gentleman named Carlo Walther.
During the autumn of 1908 it was here that the celebrated Impressionist painter Claude Monet stayed - a long visit in which he made the most of his talent with the magnificent views that the hotel offered. In a letter, dated October 16th, 1908, Mme. Monet wrote: "We have finally arrived at the Hotel Britannia, with a view, if such a thing were possible, even more beautiful than that of Palazzo Barbaro..."
Palazzo Tiepolo was flanked by a space that until the first half of the nineteenth century contained an ancient "squero", a workshop for the construction of gondolas, which bordered Calle del Traghetto. In times long past, an iron chain had been attached at this point on the Grand Canal. The iron chain, when drawn between the two shores, formed part of a defence system set up on the Grand Canal from the 9th century onwards to prevent the incursions of pirates.
A beautiful, small palace was built on the area occupied by the squero in the second half of the 19th century, which became the Hotel Rome & Suisse, owned by P. Fenili. In 1900 the palace became the property of the "Venice Hotels Limited", a company which already owned the Hotel Danieli, the Grand Hotel, and the Hotel Vittoria. In 1906 this company constituted the base for the birth of the" CIGA Compagnia Italiana Grandi Alberghi".
A tourist guide from 1905 reads: "Among the hotels built especially for that use, the Hotel de Rome is amongst those most renowned for the great comfort of their interiors. It was a truly successful idea to arrange the facade on the Grand Canal into three parts, the central part of which is set back to allow space for a terrace from which one breathes the salt air and enjoys the panorama".
It was only in the 1930's that the hotel name was changed to Hotel Regina.
In 1938 the Compagnia Italiana Grandi Alberghi purchased the property of the Hotel Britannia, and changed its name into Hotel Europa & Britannia. Despite having the same ownership, the Hotel Regina and the Hotel Europa & Britannia led separate lives for many years. Both, however, were considered to be of the highest standard, and welcomed illustrious guests of every sort.
In 1976 the two hotels merged and, after careful restoration, became known as the Hotel Europa & Regina.