For the first time, public will have chance to tour Vernon's Caetani House

Historic tour, historic house

For the first time in its history, the public will have a chance to tour Vernon's Caetani House.

Sveva Caetani was a virtual prisoner in the house for decades, but like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, she broke free to become a celebrated artist.

The East Hill home was gifted to the city 25 years ago and has become a hub of artistic activity.

Tours of the mansion begin Friday.

“We are very excited to finally be open for tours to the public for the first time,” says Caetani Centre executive director Susan Brandoli. “We are looking forward to sharing the history of the house and artwork with the community and give individuals, for the first time, the opportunity to come inside and tour the house.”

Brandoli says the tours have been in the works for a long time, with numerous safety renovations being done to the 126-year-old heritage building before it could be opened to the public.

There were plans to open the house last year, and then COVID happened.

Numerous works of art by Sveva will also be on display, in a sort of homecoming for the renowned artist.

Pieces from the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives have returned to the house, as have works from the Kelowna museum.

“The big news is we have received the Alberta Foundation of the Arts collection of Sveva Caetani's recapitulation series,” said Brandoli. “That is a series of over 50 large-scale watercolour paintings that she created based on her life.”

Gabriel Newman, Caetani Centre programs director, will be leading the tours.

“The Caetani family has a long and fascinating history. They were one of the most important families in Italy since the middle ages,” said Newman. “This story is unlike any other we have in the Okanagan. If there is anything that can be turned into an opera, it's this story.”

Newman will talk about rise and fall of the aristocratic family from the height of their wealth to total isolation.

Tours will be offered July 2 to Aug. 28 every Thursday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

No tours will be offered on Saturday, Aug 7, due to the outdoor Caetani Music Festival.

Tours last an hour with an additional hour to look around. Cost is $10 for adults and $6 for those 18 and under. For more information and to book a tour click here.

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