The importance of this family was widely described by the Paduan Giacomo Zabarella in his writing "The magnificent, that is, the masked virtue where all the sublime grandeurs of the Serenissima Republic of Venice and of the noble house of Zani are discovered".
The family appears to be originally from ancient Rome having as a distant ancestor Marco Vipsanio Agrippa known for being the winner of the battle of Actium which took place in 31 BC. C. and father-in-law of Augustus. Going forward with time, the surname Vipzanii was progressively altered into Sianii, Ciani, Ziani up to Zani or vulgarly Zane. They moved to the lagoon city during the barbarian invasions and were among the 24 families of tribunal origin who administered the Serenissima at the beginning.
In the city life we know the existence of the family as early as 1276 during which Nicolò Zane da San Stin was elected procurator of San Marco and one of their residences in the area was known only starting from 1367 when Andrea di Almorò Zane he bought from Andrea Contarini Doge the land in the Sant'Agostino area where the residence of Baiamonte Tiepolo stood (he was accused of treason and lese majesty and for this reason his house was razed to the ground).
Domenico Zane was the one who gave the impetus to the construction of the casino-library which was nicknamed "Pericles of the highly intelligent homeland" for his communicative skills and the dialectic that led him to play the role of ambassador to Austria and Spain; Philip IV recognized his diplomatic qualities and decorated him with the title of knight. In 1665 he had the facade of the manor house on the Rio Sant’Agostin renovated entirely in Istrian stone by the architect Baldassarre Longhena. In the absence of direct heirs, Domenico left the house and his possessions to his nephew Marino, inviting him to safeguard his book heritage and the art gallery.
Marino Zane followed the dictates of his uncle with pleasure being an art lover, bibliophile and collector of ceramics: he increased the number of books in the library and family paintings. It is precisely from this dedication to the preservation and expansion of the family's works that the need arose to increase the space by creating an environment specifically used as a "bookshop" and "casino" and he commissioned the architect Antonio Gaspari to do so; the building was built in the final part of the garden already owned by the Zane family and the view of the San Giacomo dell’Orio canal was arranged. During his life, Marino was podestà in Bergamo and Brescia and general in Palmanova and Dalmatia and constantly took care of the administrative part of the San Moisè theater that the family bought in 1628 from the Giustinians (the theater was sold in 1705); he took care of modernizing the set-ups and from 1639 only music dramas were presented on stage. He died at the age of 70 on 17 February 1709.
Of the four children, three boys and one girl, the one who took charge of the family business was Vettor Zane who decided to put his hand back on the facade of the casino with the intention of making it uniform with that of the library. Soon the problem of carrying on the lineage of the Zane and the 4 children of Marino was faced: Leonardo died young, Domenico gave birth to a daughter (Maria), Maria entered a convent and finally Vettor married Elena Michiel, gave birth to a male but unfortunately, he too passed away early, when he was still in infants.
Thus it was that the male line of the Zane stopped and Vettor, who died at the age of 49 (1715), left in his will to his wife Elena or, in case of disappearance, to his niece Maria (daughter of his brother Domenico and wife of Nicolò Venier) the entire estate (annual income of 163,500 ducats). A document of 1348 drawn up by a descendant, Almorò Zane, provided that the succession should take place only in the male line (if extinct, it had to be extended to the closest male relative) so Antonio Zane quondam Francesco claimed this right by challenging the testamentary deed to favor of Elena Michiel, Vettor's wife. This joined Maria Venier and Antonio Zane's sister and turned to a lawyer to protect their position and question the application of the document of 1300: given the economic growth of the Zane family, the noblewomen wondered if the 14th century deed could also concern properties from 1700 or refer only to those present at the time it was stipulated. Finally, in 1716 the Palazzetto Bru Zane was handed over to Maria Zane Venier who, after a few years, died and the residence definitively became part of the Venier di San Vio heritage. Maria Contarini Venier was the last indirect descendant of the Zane and since its transfer, a few years after 1800, the casino was separated from the palace.