Grand canals, gondolas, and soft lit lagoons – has there ever been a destination as soaked in romance as Venice? Italy’s favorite fairytale city certainly knows how to put on a show, as echoes of Vivaldi spill out into the street and fine wine flows to meet high fashion in some of the prettiest piazzas in the world. Venice boasts an incredible 150 canals criss crossed by no less than 400 bridges. You could spend an eternity in the Piazza San Marco – known as the drawing room of Europe, lingering over short sharp coffees. Summers in Venice are sweet and long and with the redeemer’s feast festival on the horizon, there is no brighter and richer time to visit.
Where to Sleep
Finery and frescoes are in abundance in Venetian hotels, whose architecture has inspired the world. In the waterside city there is no shortage of five star beds. The Gritti Palace is a firm favorite with elite travelers looking for a stunning stay in a 15th century palazzo. Boasting one of the best spots on the Grand Canal, the interiors are every bit as lovely as the view out of the window – with plump fabrics, fabulous frescoes, and ornate antiques. The boutique size also helps ensure that the staff have plenty of time for patrons and the Club de Doge restaurant is one of the most beautiful in the entire city.
The Danieli Hotel has to be the star of the show when it comes to Venice hotels, you are sure to recognize the jaw-dropping lobby from several Hollywood movies. Everything shimmers in this hotel, from the Murano glass chandeliers to the marble pillars. At cocktail hour, you can sip an aperitif to the sound of a grand piano, and the rooftop restaurant is the perfect place to roll those ruby red wines around your tongue and watch the merchant ships like nobility of old.
Phillip Starck created something truly amazing on the banks of the Grand Canal with his Palazzina G Hotel, everything about this hotel echoes with elitist design. From the members only Krug champagne bar to the mahogany boat used to ferry guests across the chic city, the Palazzina G understands that decadence is in the details. The third floor suite is a must; with its own private elevator, sweeping city vistas from the bed, and scores of mirrors delivering a spacious feel. We wouldn’t expect anything less from the man responsible for Steve Job’s Yacht Venus and Sailing Yacht A.
Where to Dine
Venice is a foodie paradise, just like the rest of Italy. Being on the water you can expect melt in the mouth seafood, regional specialties like meatballs, and antipasti that is surely to die for. This is also the home of one of the most expensive ruby red wines in the world – Amarone della Valpolicella. For a romantic evening, be sure to bag a table at the Osteria Santa Marina where creative cuisine is at the top of its game. Sea bass ravioli may not sound like the fanciest dish, but the refined touch is one that delivers sheer style.
For al fresco dining in penultimate style, the gorgeous gardens of Locanda Cipriani is a must. All ingredients are locally sourced and the hand rolled pasta is as soft as silk. The wine cellar is another highlight and the sommelier certainly knows how to make a marriage between glass and palate work with harmonious perfection. This place has always been a favorite of Italian politicians.
Don’t leave Venice without trying at least one lunch at food critic favorite All’Arco, sure its standing room only but one bite of the ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers and the calfs liver splashed with fresh parsley and you will be in a gourmand dream.
Where to Play
A city stuffed to the hilt with renaissance style, famous works of art, and mesmerizing boutiques selling hand painted masks and other incredible treasures. Art lovers shouldn’t be shy in tracking down the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Those who want to splurge should be sure to escape the city and head to the floral draped island of Burano. The postcard pretty spot makes for an exquisite half day trip especially for those who want to buy delicate hand-woven lace products beautifully crafted by Burano women for centuries.
A gondola ride is part of the ritual of being in Venice, and indeed there is no moment more magical than sliding through silken waters, down tight knit ancient waterways, and passing by some of the most majestic sites the city has to offer.
For those who don’t feel like taking part in tradition, then opt for a mini cooper hire instead and buzz around the bright city and its surroundings. For those who want to city from dizzying new heights, then take a helicopter tour for a bird’s eye view of the sprawling waterways and dazzling basilica rooftops.