John and I have just wrapped up an amazing six nights in Venice, and it has been absolutely incredible! Yes, there has been high water–Aqua Alta!–but the city is open, bustling, and anything but downtrodden.
Happily, we packed our trusty Hunter Boots, so John and I sloshed through the city on the few mornings when the water levels were bad. We felt like kids splashing about in giant water puddles! Our Air BnB was charming and perfectly situated. Our friend Grace from Hong Kong joined us and was an amazing partner in crime. My parents zipped into town and we all had a great Thanksgiving together, and we sipped buckets of Prosecco.
P.S. I put my diet on hold until we are back in the States.
In Venice, John and I love going out before dinner (Venetians dine around 9pm) for a Prosecco or white wine paired with “cicchetti,” Venetian tapas-style appetizers. All’Arco is a great place near the Rialto Bridge for pre-prandial wine and nibbles (think bacalao, Prosciutto, figs, anchovies, and such piled high onto crispy bread).
2. Valese Foundry
Valese Foundry has both a working foundry (in the Canareggio neighborhood) and shop (near San Marco on Calle Fiubera) and casts stunning bronze pieces including doorknobs, door knockers, and door pulls. We love gorgeous cast-metal pieces that reflect a handmade artisanal tradition–so much more fun than what’s on the shelf at Lowe’s or Home Depot.
3. Ars Cenedese glassworks
If you are serious about your Murano glass, this incredible, decades-old glassworks on the charming island of Murano is an essential. Ars Cenedese Murano only works with private clients, but the pieces they create–from stunning chandeliers to glasses–are beyond breathtaking. Email them to make an appointment then have lunch at Trattoria Ai Fratti just up the canal after your tour.
4. BAR LONGHI AT THE GRITTI PALACE HOTEL
The cocktails are bloody expensive, but the setting, atmosphere (paintings by Pietro Longhi) and gracious service in the iconic Gritti Palace Hotel make it all worthwhile. Plus, they load you up with wonderful potato chips, olives, and nibbles. The mirrored and Murano glass-filled interior of the bar is one of our most favorite spots anywhere. And the seating is so low slung and sexy!
5. Ca’Rezzonico House museum
Step back in time several centuries at Ca’Rezzonico to see how the nobility lived in Venice during the height of the Republic’s glittering reign in the 18th century. Sprawling public spaces filled with breathtaking Murano chandeliers mix with gorgeous furnishings and accessories. Simply heaven.
6. Caffe Florian
Smack in what has been called Europe’s living room, aka Saint Mark’s Square, centuries-old Caffe Florian mixes wonderful snacks (tuna and olive sandwiches or chicken and radicchio sandwiches) with kicked-up, whipped cream-topped coffees and Aperol sprit cocktails. The waiters wear crisp tuxes and serve on silver trays. But be warned: A typical spritz in Venice is $6–here they are $14. Great cafe-centric gifts, too.
7. Rooftop Terrace at Fondaco de Tedeschi Department Store
Owned by the Benetton family and catering largely to a Chinese clientele, this former post office turned department store Fondaco dei Tedeschi (courtesy of starchitect Rem Koolhaas) has all of the usual suspects from Christian Louboutin to Gucci and Alexander McQueen. Book a time to visit–for free!–the rooftop terrace with its million-dollar vistas onto the Grand Canal.
8. Gianni Basso Stampatore
Just down from Fondamente Nove where you catch the vaporetto water bus out to Murano island, Gianni Basso Stampatore attracts a well-heeled, global visitor for bespoke, letterpress-crafted business cards, book plates, and more. Order your bespoke cards on Monday and pick up on Friday. Plus, he ships. A lovely gentleman to boot!
9. Ristorante La bitta
In a city where every single restaurant menu features the exact same seafood dishes–at varying price points!–La Bitta is a haven for meat eaters. Charming, beautifully priced, and casual. Chef/owner Debora (with her pink hair) is gracious and a tad “salty.” Cash only. Minutes from the Accademia bridge.
10. Pied a Terre shoes
Tucked under the arcade to the left as you descend the Rialto Bridge from San Marco, Pied a Terre pack a punch with traditional Venetian shoes soled with bicycle tires, ie You can wear these outside, too. Think raw silks, colorful velvets, and sumptuous Bevilacqua textiles… This shoe store is a candy land for lovers of chic flats–both men and women. Gents: Our favorite model–the “Wilde,” named for dear Oscar–pairs swimmingly with tuxedos.