Musica a Palazzo

Musica a Palazzo is essentially a way to see intimate operatic performances for less than opera prices. Not only is it affordable and abounding with insane talent from the performers, it takes place in a Venetian palace.

The performances occur in various rooms of the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto. This aristocratic residence of the past is tucked away canal-side within the San Marco neighborhood of Venice. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. In fact, you should plan on arriving early just to find the right building. This may be your only signal:


But once you step inside, you step into a beautiful Baroque scene of antiquity…

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The Wedding Therapist and I came here for a special abridged performance of La Traviata. (This is another added benefit of Musica a Palazzo by the way: the fact that performances are shorter than conventional opera). Each act takes place in a separate room. Our performance consisted of approximately 25 audience members, 3 singers, 3 strings players, and a pianist. Despite the small gathering, the performance had almost all the power and emotion of the original work. The overture led straight into Libbiamo dei calici, followed by a wealth of unbelievable vocal solos and arias. The singers brought about a cyclone of cathartic misery and drama in the most beautiful tones. We experienced La Traviata as we never have before (we’ve only studied it in music school and casually listened to recordings). It was a perfect event for getting to know Venice at its core.

Not only did Musica a Palazzo enculture us and leave me full of tears, they hooked us up with sparkling wine as well.


Some tips for experiencing Musica a Palazzo

  • As with all travel experiences, try to book well in advance. You gain access by buying a membership card (pictured as the cover photo). Right now it is 85 euro per person. This is pretty reasonable since tickets to an opera at La Fenice may cost upwards of 280 euro. 
  • Dress up, but remember it’s still not the opera. You don’t need the ball gown or tuxedo. Even the tie isn’t fully necessary, but encouraged. The dress code was semi-formal overall. A nice cocktail dress, button-down dress shirt, formal sweater, khakis, sweater-dress, casual blazer, etc.; all of these would suffice. 
  • As previously mentioned, allow yourself ample time to locate the venue.
  • If you want seats close to the performers, arrive early. Seats are not numbered.
  • Don’t bring children. Children under the age of 15 can get in for a reduced price of 30 euro. Unless they are one of those genius kids that appreciates opera and Italian lyrics, however, they will probably get fidgety. There’s not really a way to excuse yourself from the performance without calling attention to yourself.
  • If you will be out all day, consider picking up a portable phone charger. This myCharge is a great one:


A Final Romantic Note

Venice is saturated with historical architecture and design. Every street is picturesque and visually stunning, regardless of the time of day. Between the seafood lunches and our peaceful gondola ride, I contemplated our privileges and the relativity of beauty. What I witness with my eyes, another tastes from a spring. 

As our time in Venezia came to a close, we drank our final vin brulé. I listened to music on the train and remembered watching stars in Sedona (Arizona). I recalled the experiences that led to my life with my wife, and imagined what will follow. I visualized her hands, old and aged, and thought of how beautiful she will always be to me. 

Six Signs You’re a Classy Traveler

There are essentially six signs that you’re a classy traveler. Classy ladies and gentlemen adhere to these important guidelines all over the world. They travel from England, China, Argentina, Russia. And, despite some ugly stereotypes, I sincerely believe a good number of Americans travel with this type of respect and dignity. Check the list, and see how you compare!

1. You tip generously.

In this day and age, there’s little reason to tip under 20%. Unless the service was truly sub par (and not just the server forgetting a lemon wedge for your lemonade), tip well. 

As a former server myself, I experienced a lot of gratitude toward people who took care of me. I remember people like Carl, the aging workaholic who would give a few extra dollars because I refilled his coffee often. It’s a classy move, and if you can afford to travel, you can afford the gratuity. If you truly cannot, consider street food, packing lunches, ordering less expensive items, or sacrificing that second glass of vino.

2. You research some basic customs and etiquette before arriving at your destination.

Courtesy of

The classy traveler knows that shoulders should be covered in most cathedrals.

The classy traveler knows that in some Arab and Asian countries, it’s rude to point your foot at someone.

Part of what makes traveling great is the consciousness you build after being exposed to other societies. It also requires a little pregaming in the consciousness department. A little research goes a long way in excursions. Know how to act, and the people will (usually) respect you for it.

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3. The hotel room isn’t trashed.


My wife takes this seriously. Yes, you are paying for a housekeeping service. This doesn’t warrant a free pass for leaving a pig sty though. Not only is it courteous to the staff, it is helpful to other guests as well. We had to wait almost two extra hours for our room because a family left the place in disarray. Don’t be that guy.

Some specific tips:

  • Use the trash bin.
  • If it gets full, call management.
  • Don’t flush your pants down the toilet.
  • Save the blowing of snot-rockets for the woods.
  • Wine goes in the mouth.
  • Anything rotting should be tied in a bag immediately and taken outside the building.
  • Don’t conceal vomit. Be a big boy/girl and ask for help.
  • Dogs that can handle their s— (no pun intended) are ok. Cats are another story.

4. You rock classy travel gear.

5. You keep your shoes on.


This specifically applies to planes, trains, and automobiles. Even if you had a pedicure last week, keep those metatarsals to yourself. If you haven’t washed your feet since packing, definitely keep that funk contained.

I spoke to a flight attendant close to me, and she revealed some of the in-flight atrocities she’s seen. She spoke of the minor offenses, like people walking barefoot to the lavatory as if it were their own home. But more disgustingly, she spoke of jamokes setting their feet up on the armrest in front of them. This is not classy.

6. You have at least one black-tie affair on the itinerary.


You don’t have to wear an Armani suit or dress like Sophia Loren every day of your trip to breathe class. But it’s good to have at least one chance to look elegant. Even after you take the dress socks off, you’ll likely remain in a sagacious mindset.

Also, don’t take this as “I need to spend a lot of money on formal wear and spend a lot of money on an expensive restaurant.” Adapt. If you’re low on cash, who says you can’t wear a tie on a picnic? Who says a tie from Goodwill isn’t formal? 

Another note: this is not a point of condescension. There are more reasons to embrace sophistication than there are excuses for disposing your own pride. I want everybody in this world to feel good. We all owe it to ourselves!

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