Before our minds drift completely back to New York from our lovely trip to warm and sunny Sarasota, Florida, we wanted to say a few words about the very special John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. This wonderful waterfront estate was purchased in 1911 by John Ringling, a member of the Ringling family of circus fame and fortune, and his wife Mable. In 1924, they began construction on Ca’ d’Zan, the Venetian Gothic mansion inspired by their travels to Italy, that was to be their winter home. The most magnificent part of the house is the back where Sarasota Bay stands in for the Grand Canal — truly spectacular. Completed at the end of 1925 and considered to be the last Gilded Age mansion built in the United States, they only enjoyed Ca’ d’Zan together for a few short short years due to Mable’s untimely death in 1929. Incidentally, it was at Ca’ d’Zan that the 1998 movie Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke and Gwenyth Paltrow was filmed.
Today, the property includes two Circus Museums, the Museum of Art that houses the Ringling’s world-renowned collection of Old Masters as well as special exhibitions; the Historic Asolo Theater, an 18th-century palace playhouse from Asolo, Italy that was dismantled in the 1940s, brought to the estate and lovingly reconstructed over the course of several years; numerous gardens and the glorius Millenium Tree Trail. All of which is not to be missed.