Unlocking Venetian Secrets in San Francisco's Hidden Castle - Atlas Obscura

Unlocking Venetian Secrets in San Francisco’s Hidden Castle

Invitees were given rare access to explore Albion castle.

Bubble Queen Monica Salazar performs an intriguing set.
Bubble Queen Monica Salazar performs an intriguing set. Clinton Perry

On an unforgettable night in early November, San Francisco’s historic Albion Castle was transformed into a Venetian paradise. In media partnership with Per La Mente and curated by violinist Adriana Molello, “The Night Garden of Serenissima: A Venetian Fairy Tale” was an evening filled with heady amusements that paid homage to Venice’s heritage.

Famous for its underground waterways that originally sustained an on-site brewery, Albion Castle was the perfect venue to host an evening inspired by Venice’s winding canals. Guests were given exclusive access to explore both the castle’s renovated interior and its subterranean cisterns.

Musicians, performance artists, dancers and a host of other entertainers mingled with guests, displaying a diverse array of talents that touched on Venice’s Carnivale and its history as a place where eastern and western influences converged. Belly dancers bewitched revelers while musicians played Baroque as well as Arabic and Chinese music. Molello herself performed a set amid two lion-headed fountains in one of the castle’s cisterns. All the while, invitees sipped custom Fernet-Branca cocktails (including the Eva Perón), created specially for the event.

Venice was once known as “La Serenissima” (Italian for “the most serene”). The event’s ambience succeeded in matching the aquatic city’s reputation, and guests carried on through the evening with a uniquely-Venetian sense of ease.


To create the Eva Perón at home, begin with a Collins glass and add:

  • 3/4oz Fernet-Branca
  • 3/4oz Carpano Antica Formula
  • 3/4oz Ginger Liquor
  • 1/2oz Lime Juice
  • 2oz Ginger Beer

Top off with Ginger Beer, and add a mint sprig for garnish.

A freshly-poured Eva Perón cocktail.
A freshly-poured Eva Perón cocktail. Clinton Perry
Palm reader Matthew Drewery Baker tells a guest's fortune.
Palm reader Matthew Drewery Baker tells a guest’s fortune. Clinton Perry
Revelers mingle and imbibe at the bar.
Revelers mingle and imbibe at the bar. Clinton Perry
Guests dance to middle-eastern inspired music.
Guests dance to middle-eastern inspired music. Clinton Perry
Musician Melody Pu Liu plays the traditional Chinese guzheng.
Musician Melody Pu Liu plays the traditional Chinese guzheng. Clinton Perry
Musicians congregate on the castle's lush grounds.
Musicians congregate on the castle’s lush grounds. Clinton Perry
A drummer in Dan Cantrell's Ensemble awaits his performance set.
A drummer in Dan Cantrell’s Ensemble awaits his performance set. Clinton Perry
Violinist Adriana Molello plays in one of Albion Castle's subterranean waterways.
Violinist Adriana Molello plays in one of Albion Castle’s subterranean waterways. Clinton Perry
Violinist Adriana Molello performs to an enchanted crowd.
Violinist Adriana Molello performs to an enchanted crowd. Clinton Perry
A horned performer watches Molello's musical set.
A horned performer watches Molello’s musical set. Clinton Perry
Guests toast Fernet-Branca cocktails.
Guests toast Fernet-Branca cocktails. Clinton Perry

Per La Mente — which means “for the mind” — has been created by Fernet-Branca to be a source of discovery about what's possible across the vast universe of creative experiences. We’re endlessly curious about underground, experiential, and elusive culture, as well as the artists who make and love it. With every story, we share a spark of mystery, a hint of eccentricity, a dash of staggering originality, and a tinge of passionate genius. Think of Per La Mente as the storyteller, the enabler — the conduit to the path less traveled. Open your mind to some splendid adventures, like the one we have brought forth here.