Sitting proudly on Muizenberg’s ‘Historical Mile’ is Casa Labia, a national monument with a rich history. This restaurant, wedding venue and cultural centre has stunned locals for decades and finds its roots in the early 1900s with the esteemed Labia family.

Count Natale Labia, born in 1877 in Cerignola near Foggia in Italy, was a member of the Italian Foreign Service and moved to Johannesburg in 1916 when he became the Italian Consul to Johannesburg. It was here that he met his future wife Ida and years later, the pair moved to Muizenberg when the Count was appointed Italy’s first minister plenipotentiary.

The land they chose to build a home on was once the site of an old battery set up to protect False Bay from hostile and marauding ships.

The Casa Labia broke ground in 1929 and was designed to be a family home as well as a site for the Italian Legation, the official residence of Italy’s diplomatic representative in South Africa.

The home was designed with Italian architecture and style front in mind, with the Palazzo Labia as its key inspiration. In fact, the interior fittings were all imported from Venice and Italian decorator Angelo Zaniol was flown in to oversee the creation of an authentic Venetian style.

The home was completed in 1930, and soon became a place visited by various statesman, academics and businessmen from all over the country.

After the Count’s death in 1936, Ida and their children moved to Wynberg. She died in 1961 and the home remained empty for years until the Canadian Government and later the Argentine Government took over the lease to run their embassies in Cape Town.

By 1985 the Department of National Education, the Director of the South African National Gallery, Dr Raymond van Niekerk, and the Treasury jointly decided to open up the Casa Labia to the public as a museum and cultural centre.

The Count’s son, Count Luccio Labia regained ownership of the property in 2008 and together with his daughter, Antonia Labia Hardres-Williams they restored the home to its former glory and reopened it as a multi-functional cultural centre and up-market venue in May 2010.

Ideas Cartel took over the management of the Casa Labia Cultural Centre in late 2020. The building now features a members club, coworking facilities and a public hosting restaurant. There are also two suites available for overnight accommodation.

The Venue at Casa Labia can be booked for weddings, private events, dinners, conferences, cocktail parties and film or stills shoots.

If you’re wanting to visit this magnificent mansion, make sure to book for their High Tea experience for R350 per person. You can also sit down for a delicious Italian meal paired with excellent wines, which you can enjoy as you take in the stunning sights of the False Bay coastline.

The history of The Labia Theatre

 

Picture: Instagram / Casa Labia

Article written by