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The building exterior is quite ornate in places.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Ca' d'Zan Mansion - Ringling Museum of Art

5401 Bay Shore Road Sarasota, Florida 34243
Open 10am–5pm, and on Thursdays until 8pm
941-359-5700 2 hours
January 2013 All year
$10-29 Sarasota Florida
Website Historical Homes
First review
Ca' d’Zan, which translates into “House of John” is the mansion built by John and Mable Ringling in 1924 and is now part of the Ringling Museum of Art. The mansion is a 56 room spectacle built in a Venetian Gothic style, which the Ringlings became familiar with on their European travels. Ca' d’Zan cost $1.5 million to build and is described as the last of the Gilded Age mansions. There are 3 tours available, two of which incur an extra fee.

Ca' d’Zan has 36,000 square feet. There are 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. It has 5 floors, but the first and second are the main ones. The first floor includes the entrance area, court/living room, dining room and kitchen. Just outside the living room is a beautiful marble terrace fronting the Gulf of Mexico. Bedrooms and bathrooms are mostly on the second floor. The highest floors have an entertainment room, private offices and a belvedere tower with views of Longboat Key.

A self-guided tour option of the mansion is included in the price of admission but it is limited to the first floor. A $5 docent tour covers both the first and second floors. The Private Places Tour cost $20 and visited the first and second floors as well as rooms and offices on higher floors. If you only want to get a quick sense of the house then save the money and time and go with the self-guided option. The Private Places Tour goes to more of the house but did not provide enough value or insight to justify a $20 fee. The view on the roof was good, but not dramatically different from the view on the terrace. The docent tour at a more reasonable $5 is the best option because a guide is available to answer questions and you can see the bedrooms on the second floor. As famous homes go, Ca' d’Zan was below average. While opulent, it lacked the majesty of some more famous homes of the same era. A visit does provide a better sense of John Ringling, who was a reserved man in public but was certainly not shy at showing off his wealth.
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