Florida Getaways of the Day
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Sarasota: Have cocktails at Ringling's castle( AP PHOTO/TAMPA TRIBUNE, MARK GUSS )
One of the great homes of Florida was built on Sarasota Bay in the 1920s by John and Mable Ringling. By then, John Ringling was the only survivor of five brothers who had built a circus empire.
The Ringling castle, called Ca' d'Zan, which means "House of John" in the Venetian dialect, is spectacular and ostentatious. But what did you expect from a circus czar -- subtlety? One of Mable Ringling's favorite buildings was the Doge's Palace in Venice, so she made sure many of the palace's features were used in her house.
The building is 200 feet long and contains 30 rooms and 14 baths. A 2 1/2-story roofed court serves as the main living room. Columns, doorways, arched windows with tinted glass were brought from Italy, along with decorative accents, all in the Venetian Renaissance style.
One of the best ways to appreciate the palace and its amazing view of Sarasota Bay is to attend "Third Thursdays, Cocktails at the Cà d'Zan." From 6 to 9 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month, the stunning terrace of the mansion is the site of an open-air cocktail party with a live regional band and a sunset to remember. Admission is $5 and seating is limited. Food and drinks are extra.
-- Ken Clarke, Orlando Sentinel
For details about visiting Cà d'Zan and the Ringling Museum of Art