Venice is a miracle built on 118 small islands in Northern Italy. It is connected only by canals and lined by glorious Venetian architecture. The bubonic plague struck Venice in the mid-14th century. It was, of course, one of the most famous pandemics in history. Venetians had to quarantine before entering the heart of the city. (We owe the English word “quarantine” to the Italian term for 40 days, quaranta giorni.) Today, the city is alive and Carnevale continues.
The Small List
The Gritti Palace – In the heart of Venice overlooking the Grand Canal, the Gritti Palace is a 15th century noble palace and luxury hotel. It offers guests a fascinating insight into its illustrious past. A historical treasure, The Gritti Palace exhibits exceptional art and showcases iconic terraces. The most magnificent terrace in Venice is the Riva Lounge. It is an enchanting atmosphere matching the breathtaking view over the Grand Canal. The Palace is the epitome of luxury and, therefore, a perfect destination to celebrate “La Dolce Vita”.
Aman Venice – This luxury hotel on the Grand Canal features works by a number of Italy’s greatest artists. In addition, the Aman showcases private gardens in an enchanting setting. It’s a hidden gem and just a short walk from Piazza San Marco. As a result, it offers peace and serenity in the heart of the floating city.
Hotel Danieli – Just steps from Piazza San Marco, the Hotel Danieli is rich with Gothic architecture. The privileged location overlooks the lagoon and is comprised of three palaces. Clearly, there is no lack of spectacular views at this legendary landmark.
Hotel Cipriani – In 1956 Giuseppe Cipriani decided to build a hotel for jet-setting travelers. For his clientele, it is away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Hotel Cipriani, a Belmond Hotel, is one of the most celebrated luxury hotels in Venice. The hotel is an iconic hideaway. The Olympic-sized pool is one of the finest in Europe, and the only one in central Venice.
Excess Venice – Set in a 15th-century building, Excess Venice Boutique Hotel and Private Spa is one of a kind. The hotel is located in Venice’s tranquil Dorsoduro area. Relax in the authentic Venetian garden or the private spa. An extraordinary experience in an extraordinary place.
Club del Doge – Located in The Gritti Palace, Club del Doge Restaurant is a fresh tribute to the timeless wonders of Venetian cuisine. It offers glorious water views, elegant decor and supreme sophistication.
Harry’s Bar – With the richest history in Europe, Harry’s Bar was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 2001. Giuseppe Cipriani opened the renowned restaurant in Venice in 1931. It is located on the waterfront of St. Mark’s Bay. Harry’s Bar has been serving the original Bellini and Carpaccio of beef ever since.
“Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy”
Ristorante da Ivo – “Da Ivo” was opened in 1976 by Ivo Natali from Tuscany. Located just a short walk from St Mark’s Square, Ristorante da Ivo serves superb cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. The restaurant is a favorite destination for both Venetians and foodies. Guests can arrive directly by water taxi or gondola. Location, location, location!
Ristorante da Fiore – Once an old Venetian Tavern, Ristorante da Fiore is now a Michelin Star restaurant of international fame. The family uses only carefully chosen and strictly seasonal ingredients. It is a must for foodies on every visit to Venice.
Do Forni Ristorante – A popular destination for all those who travel to Venice and wish to experience the noblest traditions of Venetian hospitality. Do Forni Restaurant offers a traditional and elegant setting in its Venetian-style rooms that reproduce an Orient Express dining car.
Enoteca Osteria San Marco – Quiet and comfort can be found just a few steps from the bustling Piazza San Marco. This casual yet elegant restaurant and wine bar deserves praise for its authentic Italian non-touristy food.
Best Restaurants in Castello
Serra dei Giardini – This former 19th-century glass house was transformed into a lovely flower shop and a café. It is located in the Castello area in Venice. The historic building is a meeting place with multifunctional uses. It includes a tea room, reading room, and flower shop which promotes educational and cultural activities for the public. For instance, environmental information courses for schools, workshops for children and teenagers, gardening courses, and special public events. A Venice secret!
El Refolo – This tiny chic bar has a big reputation. Located in Castello, far from the tourist trail, you’ll find a tasty snack. The finest charcuterie and cheese from all over Italy are here. And, of course, a refreshing Aperol Spritz.
Nevodi – This is an Italian version of a French bistro located off the beaten track in the neighborhood of Castello. Nevodi serves great food, excellent service and a good vibe. Indulge as tradition and innovation collide.
Osteria da Pampo – Osteria da Pampo is a calm oasis far from the hustle of the touristy historical center. It is the ideal place to spend a quick lunch or a relaxing dinner. Sip local wine and savor dishes of a bygone era.
Aciugheta – The “Tiny Anchovy”, as the name translates, is a very good and simple pizzeria-trattoria. Aciugheta is a locals restaurant with Venetian tapas in an informal setting.
Acqua Pazzo – This culinary icon features delicious cuisine shipped directly from the Amalfi Coast. Every dish is strictly based on the flavors and traditional recipes of Amalfi.
Corte Sconta – Well-informed visitors and locals seek out this trattoria with a 100 year old grapevine covering the courtyard. An ideal place to meet for special meals in the summer. Corte Sconta (hidden courtyard) is well known for its seafood antipasti and homemade pasta.
La Patatina – A unique fish restaurant with three generations of restaurateurs. The family has secrets from their kitchen that they share with great passion and enthusiasm. It is a very warm and cozy setting.
La Caravella – One of the most celebrated and historical Venice restaurants, near Saint Mark’s Square, known for its superb Venetian cuisine. Excellent service and unique nautical decor is also a draw.
Al Covo – Tradition, passion, freshness and quality of locally sourced ingredients is the constant quest at Al Covo.
Best Overall Experience
Riva Yacht Experience – Enjoy an exclusive Riva Yacht Experience for guests of The Gritti Palace. Explore the beauty of the Venice Lagoon on the Aquariva speedboat “Il Doge”. This legendary yacht was handcrafted by Riva, a brand known worldwide since 1842 for its elegance, status, and perfection. A symbol of the Italian dolce vita, the Riva Yacht Experiences aboard “Il Doge” are the ultimate way to experience the city.
The Riva Lounge at Gritti Palace – Tailored around the materials used in the design of the Riva Yacht, the look and feel of this seasonal Riva Lounge reflects the Riva Aquarama Lounge at the Monaco Yacht Club. The Riva Lounge is located on the iconic Gritti Terrace.
Best Cafes and Bars
Adagio Caffè & Wine Bar – Adagio is located adjacent to Atelier Marega. Two sisters with a big passion for hospitality combine tradition and innovation in their menu. They reinterpret old Venetian classics in a contemporary manner. It is a perfect spot to choose a wine and enjoy aperitifs in the historic center of Venice.
Caffè Florian – A delicious and light menu to suit every occasion. Caffè Florian draws inspiration from classic light lunches and, most importantly, traditional cakes and pastries.
Vino Vino – This local haunt is located near St. Mark’s Square. Vino Vino has an extensive menu of seasonal Venetian specialties. Pizza and over 200 wines by the glass are, after all, the highlights.
Osteria All’Arco – A favorite Venetian bacaro with extremely good cichetti, good wines, and a friendly staff. Breakfast at All’ Arco is served standing up with a glass of wine. +39 041 520 5666
“Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy”
Atelier Antonia Sautter – Discover the extraordinary and spectacular period costumes, masks, headpieces, jewels, accessories, feathers, ribbons and wigs. All are available for hire. Atelier Antonia Sautter dedicates her craft to period pieces. All made by hand, Antonia, of course, uses sumptuous fabrics and brocades to create opulent costumes for the discerning clientele.
Atelier Marega – A wonderful collection of high quality period costumes, for rent or for sale, can be found at Atelier Marega. The atelier uniquely designs, hand-sews, and makes custom pieces to playfully relive the splendor of the past.
Atelier Tiepolo – A fine selection of more than 300 costumes, masks, wigs, and capes are available for hire at Tiepolo. Masquerades, theater performances, films and other special events are, certainly, the perfect occasions to explore.
Things to Do
Carnevale di Venezia – The Carnival of Venice is, of course, among the oldest carnivals in the world. It engages both tourists and locals in this magical city. Carnival first began in the 11th century as a period of excess before the rigors of Lent. Lent is the 40 days of fasting that precedes Easter. Venice is exciting, but Venice during the Carnival is outstanding. The rich mixture of performances, dining, magnificent costumes and extravagant masks is, of course, a unique experience.
Things to See
Basilica della Salute – The dome of the Basilica della Salute has characterized the scenery of the San Marco basin in Venice for more than three hundred years. The Basilica is vast and bright. It serves as a thank you to the Virgin Mother of God for preserving the city from the terrible plague. In October of 1630, the plague killed nearly a third of Venice’s 150,000 citizens. The Venetian Senate finally made an offer to God. “Stop the plague, and we’ll build a church to honor the Virgin Mary”. Undeniably, the plague was stopped in its tracks.