Venice is all magic. Or at least it is until you bump into your first sweaty tourist in shorts, who’s clutching his pistachio gelato, taking obnoxious photos on his DSLR and hollering at his kids not to jump into the canal all at the same time. Luckily, summer’s over and the hordes have mostly departed, which makes this the best time of the year to drift down the Grand Canal. Plus, the Biennale is still on for the next couple of months and they've cleaned the city up so it smells like lilies instead of, you know, sewer.
If there’s a more beautiful city hotel than the Aman Venice, we’re yet to see it (full disclosure: they invited us over for perfectly mixed negronis at the very grand bar). Housed in a 16th century palace on the Grand Canal, it boasts Murano chandeliers, grand staircases and enough murals to make you dizzy. Rooms will set you back by this writer’s monthly salary, though, so you better break your piggy bank for this one.
For those not looking to live like kings, Airbnb has a particularly huge and varied roster in Venice.
Odds are that your lunch pizza at the corner trattoria will be served with a hint of home.
Eat & Drink
Odds are that your lunch pizza at the corner trattoria will be served with a hint of home: an increasing number of these are being run and serviced by Bangladeshis. Still, the pies are not half bad. If you can brave the crowds (and the musicians fee, which makes our local friends “crazy”), Caffe Florian is probably the most popular breakfast spot in the city. You can also stop by for a late evening drink. Skyline Rooftop Bar is where you get the best views: but it’s still at the Hilton, and feels a little sterilized. More atmospheric is Al Prosecco in the lovely Campo San Giacomo all'Orio neighborhood, and Osteria All’Arco. You should also absolutely take a day and visit Locanda Cipriani, a couple of hours away from the city center and accessible by boat, a garden restaurant right out of your dreams.
If you’re lucky, your parents took you to Venice when you were fourteen, and while you don’t remember much, you can legitimately choose to skip all the touristy stuff. Get your art hit instead at the Biennale, a sprawling set of art installations overtaking all of the Giardini and other parts of the city right now. Pay special attention to the German Pavilion with Anne Imhof’s futuristic, menacingly moving performance installation; the very buzzy Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst; and Glass and Bone by Jan Fabre in Dorsoduro, where the artist has arranged glass pigeons (and their droppings) in a mad-cool installation.
The shopping in Venice is woefully inadequate, with most stores catering to tourists looking for a first designer bag or souvenir to take home. Save your luggage space for Milan or Rome, but if you’re really determined, you should stop by L’O.Ft for local designers and cool eyewear; Laberintho for one-of-a-kind jewelry and L’lsolafor glassware so exquisite and expensive, you’ll be scared to touch. Good luck trying to bring it home!
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