Venice is unquestionably unique. At any time of the year, and in any weather, it’s great to be in this incredible city. This year, in particular, there is the Venice Biennale. It started in 1895 and is considered one of the most famous and prestigious cultural establishments in the world. From the end of May to the end of November, it fuels the city with exhibitions, performances, temporary galleries, exceptional openings and much more.
If you have a chance to spend a weekend here it won’t be easy to select itineraries and stops, as there is a lot to do, see, eat, appreciate and observe. To help you choose, I thought I would tell you the places that for me are a must-see for a touch-and-run in Venice, focused on culture and food.
What to do:
Art in Venice finds its perfect setting in exceptional spaces: buildings with a timeless charm that host large exhibitions ranging from the Gugghenheim Collection at Palazzo Venier dei Leoni to the Pinault Foundation which exhibits at Palazzo Grassi and in Punta della Dogana, – l ancient Dogana da Mar, the historic building dating back to the 15th century, restored to a design by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
If you are a big shopper, or even just like to look, stop by T Fondaco de Tedeschi by DFS. It’s a 1228 palace rebuilt and transformed into a luxury department store by Duty Free Shop (an LVMH company). Boutiques of the most influential high fashion brands overlook the majestic central courtyard, observed by visitors as they look upwards. Also, it is worth stopping to take a coffee at AMO. Lastly, the bistrot managed by the Alajmo family is not only recommended, it’s obligatory!
Experience – Festival del Cinema
If your weekend is scheduled between 28 August and 7 September, then know that the Biennale will also be waiting for you with its 76th Venice International Film Festival. The most loved festival in Italy promotes the knowledge and diffusion of international cinema in all its forms through the organization of retrospectives, meetings, events, film screenings and tributes to prominent personalities who have marked the history of this industry . So, go take a look at the program! And who knows, maybe if you’re lucky you might even stumble on the street in your favorite actor!
Where to eat – Bacaro addicted
“Osteria al Portego” is my absolute favorite. Book a dinner table – do not miss their bigoli in anchovy sauce – or enjoy a pile of cicchetti (small bar snacks and side dishes) leaning against one of the barrels in the adjacent yard. It’s a young and informal atmosphere with great cuisine and unbeatable prices. Instead, for a bite on the go, the “Birreria Forst” will delight you with its unmatched sandwiches as well as the “Cantina do Mori”, one of Venice’s historic bacari (cicchetti bars or osterie), where you will be amazed by the sandwiches and other menu options. You must stand and prices are a little above average, but trust me it’s worth it!
“Rusteghi“, near the Rialto bridge, is a great option for a quality drink, guaranteed by the owner Giovanni d’Este, who searches for the best of the best from all parts of the world to make his menu perfect. Needless to say, the sandwiches and various snacks that go with the wine make for an excellent match.
“Vino vero” is perfect for lovers of tradition and attention to detail. The restaurant, recently refurbished, is a true treasure of the city. Beyond a list of specially selected organic wines and an innovative menu, you can enjoy an aperitif outdoors, admiring a beautiful sunset view over the Rio della Misericordia.
For those who appreciate international flavors, “Osteria Enoteca San Marco” will become a point of reference. Born in 2002 from the friendship of the four founders, this elegant restaurant with a wine cellar is located of an old trattoria. This is where the traditional flair comes from, revisited with a touch of creativity and innovation. It’s simply a must try!
Despite those who say that the atmosphere of the past is no longer alive, “Harry’s Bar” is still a meeting point for some famous personas and tourists who love to be spoiled. If you come here, my advice is to sit at the counter and order a Bellini and a Pierino toast (a magical toast fried and served boiling hot).
For a gourmet dinner without stuffing yourself, I recommend the “Osteria alle Testiere.” The menu changes almost daily depending on the fresh fish that is available. The place is very small but very well looked after. The environment is lively, though you can easily find intimacy and joy in a tête-à-tête dinner full of chatter and good wine.
For those who prefer a somewhat more cheerful environment, also open to the outside, the perfect solution is “Da Bepi.” You won’t go wrong by choosing liver alla venetiana, Moeche, grilled fish, black cuttlefish with polenta, baccalà alla vicentina and whipped ice cream.
Finally, if you are looking for something intimate and romantic, without sacrificing quality, let yourself be charmed by the magic of Taverna at Remer … you won’t regret it!
Do you feel like a real explorer? Then “Il Mercante“ is the place for you. It’s a sophisticated cocktail bar, unique in the Venetian landscape for its continuous ability to surprise you with unusual and original cocktails. You can find it in one of the most typical areas of the city, in front of the Chiesa (church) dei Frari.
Where to sleep among breathtaking views
From the “One Thousand and One Nights” or “Once in a Lifetime” series, for an aperitif or a dinner, go up the terrace of Hotel Danieli, two steps away from Piazza San Marco along the Riva degli Schiavoni. It’s an incredible luxury with breathtaking views of the Laguna and the Giudecca island in the foreground.
To change the viewpoint, from the terrace of Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky on Giudecca you can admire San Marco in all its beauty. Modern furnishings and soft lighting make for a trendy and fascinating location away from the crowd. Also on Giudecca, right at the end of it, there is the mythical Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Here you can use their fantastic outdoor swimming pool and savor the venetian “dolce vita.”
The Baglioni Hotel Luna, in the heart of the city, overlooks the Island of San Giorgio and the San Marco basin. This is a true classic for lovers of luxury and romance. A novelty in the Venetian hotellerie is the Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel, an exclusive five-star hotel overlooking the Grand Canal, which opened last spring. It is worth a visit also for its restaurant, the GLAM, by a multi-starred chef Enrico Bartolini.
L’Hotel Do Pozzi is the perfect place if you want to experience the elegant atmosphere of Venice. You can stay in a late seventeenth century building, a step away from Piazza San Marco and via XXII Marzo, the shopping hub of the city. Enjoy a hearty breakfast and admire the two real wells the hotel gets its name from.
Going to Venice by car? Then the right place for you is the Casanova Four Rooms with a price range far different from the previous options. It is the only Serenissima Hotel with parking in an enviable location for discovering the city. There’s delightful rooms and apartments that are not to be missed.
If, on the other hand, you want the luxury of an apartment all yours to the maximum of romance and with a view to lose your head, then my advice is to check this announcement on Airbnb, the Royal Terrace Apartment behind the Church of Santa Maria Formosa, just a few minutes from Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge … it might be for you!