I am so excited to write about how we spent our last weekend!
This weekend we FINALLY made it out to Sarasota, FL, a small town on the west coast of Florida, approximately 4 hours away from our lovely abode. We got up and headed out pretty early, after stopping for a chai tea latte of course 🙂
Sarasota as a city is just so cute and quaint. It holds so much history and has become a tourist destination mainly because of one man: John Ringling.
John Ringling was one of five brothers responsible for managing and creating the Ringling Bros World’s Greatest Show, which of course is the world’s most famous traveling circus. In addition to owning and managing multiple circuses around the United States (including the Barnum & Bailey Circus), John Ringling was also an avid art collector, rancher, and real estate mogul. So, naturally, his home is absolutely breath taking and his art collection like no other. The Ca’D’Zan is the name of the beautiful home, nay- mansion, he built in Sarasota for himself and his lovely wife, Mable. The grounds include the mansion, Mable’s rose garden, and an art museum built by John Ringling himself with the intention of opening an art college. Now, the grounds also include a museum dedicated to circus memorabilia from his world famous traveling circus.
The mansion took 2 years to build and is 5 stories tall, 36,000 square feet, has 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms, and cost $1.5 million dollars to complete in 1926. I cannot imagine what the place would cost modern day. Oh and the name “Ca’D Zan” is old Venetian dialect for “House of John.” It’s very clear from both John and Mable’s travel journals and from their extensive art collection that they had a great affinity and love for Italy and Italian culture. Also why they had their mansion modeled after the Venetian Gothic style they fell in love with during their many trips to Italy.
Walking around the grounds was absolutely stunning. And lucky for us, it wasn’t too humid or hot either, making our time spent outside much more enjoyable!
The art museum is equally decadent. Ringling had a pink, Renaissance style palace built to hold his treasured art collection. It contains 21 galleries surrounding the most beautiful courtyard filled with replicas of the world’s most iconic sculptures.
If you’re anything of an art junkie (I kinda am), the painting above is a Peter Paul Rubens, a very well known 17th century artist. This particular painting is called The Four Evangelists and was completed in 1625. Due to a fire in an old workshop, there are only 7 full size, authentic Rubens in existence today; 2 which reside at the Lourve in Paris and the other 5 purchased by John Ringling are located here at the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum.
After touring the art museum and the Ca’D Zan we ventured into the crazy circus museum. Which I will admit, could be seen as a little creepy to some. They have all the costumes worn by the entertainers and the carriers that held the animals trained for the circus (which I didn’t like seeing at all, they were way to small for animals like lions and tigers).
There is even an interactive part of the museum where you can walk across a tight rope, learn how to put on clown makeup, and even try to balance on the back of a model elephant. And by the way, I nailed the tight rope walking but it is so much harder than they make it look!
Thanks for reading about our weekend getaway!