The lush mansion at 11th Street and Ocean Drive that was once home to fashion designer Gianni Versace is a perennial photo opportunity both for its lavish locale and its macabre history.
Every day in South Beach, Casa Casuarina serves as a backdrop for tourists’ pictures. They stop, whip out their smartphones or cameras, and start snapping. People often stand right on the steps leading up the mansion’s gate, the steps where Versace died when Andrew Cunanan shot him in broad daylight on July 15, 1997.
Those steps, bloodied and marked with evidence tags in images that were captured by media from all over the world, are now trod on by a steady stream of visitors who pose for their own photos.
Salome Soria Prado, of Argentina, took selfies with her mother and infant daughter Wednesday afternoon. She remembered visiting the front steps for the first time in 1998, just a year after the assassination.
“It’s a shame,” she said Wednesday. “So tragic.”
She and her mother, Julia, said they loved the mansion’s historic ambience and are fascinated with the fact that Versace lived and died there. They were surprised when they realized Saturday is the 20th anniversary of the slaying.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long,” said Soria Prado.
Others don’t know the home’s history and simply want to capture its attractive facade.
“I actually didn’t know it was Versace’s mansion,” said Karen Badillo, of Texas. She and her sister stopped to take pictures Wednesday as they walked down Ocean Drive.
Casa Casuarina is now a high-end restaurant — named Gianni’s — and a boutique hotel. Many passersby peek at the menu posted by the entrance, which boasts of caviar, seafood and meat dishes that require flush bank accounts.
Curious about what it was like in the bedrooms, Sorai Prado inquired about the price of a room.
“They told me it was $800 for a night.”
She settled for the selfies.