This was my second time in Venice, but felt like the first one. Everything was different, but as we know our destinations can be the same, but if you have a different company… I was also much better prepared this time, with must-visit sights on my map, suggested restaurants, but above all – Venice Art Biennale. At the end of this 3 day trip I was full of impressions, many mistakes made and a decision to return in a few years.
This post is a short run through my trip, so I’ll begin from the very start.
We took a train from Milan to Venice, which was a good experience (especially on our way back), when I had my seat just in front of a wonderful Italian lady…couldn’t stop staring at her – as soon as she sat down, she changed her sunglasses TWICE, put on lipstick, read a newspaper, she even had a fan in a velvet pocket which she used several times during the trip. Well, I felt like a happy tourist in a movie scene.
Finally arrived at Venice train station Santa Lucia, we agreed that it was a beautiful 20s/30s building, and as it turned out the current station building actually also is one of the few modernist buildings facing the Grand Canal. It is the result of a series of plans started up by the rationalist architect Angiolo Mazzoni in 1924 and developed by him over the next decade.
Then we headed to our apartment, which we rented through airbnb, as the prices in hotels we would like to stay were sky high in the last day offers, but it was a good choice, indeed, as we were very near Rialto bridge, in the most silent backyard and the flat was so spacious. I do suggest Francesca as a host!
SO, here are our following stops
Home for the Francois Pinault Collection, the Punta della Dogana, is one of the most prominent places in Venice, the merging point of the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal, meters away from the memorial church of Santa Maria della Salute. Amazing exhibition place, though many artworks from Mr Pinault’s collection were a big question mark for me. After seeing Moon Face by Tronche (polished concrete on a blue blanket) I came to my personal conclusion, that everything can be art if you have guts. Let’s stick to this idea.
Grand experience… what a collection, what a house, what a PERSON. We were lucky to see Jackson Pollock’s Mural. This is a must visit when in Venice, no doubt!
Short about Peggy:
After losing her father on the Titanic, heiress Peggy Guggenheim became one of the great collectors of the 20th century. Her palatial canalside home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, showcases her stockpile of surrealist, futurist and abstract expressionist art with works by up to 200 artists, including her ex-husband Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock (among her many rumoured lovers), Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
Peggy sourced artwork according to her own convictions rather than for prestige or style, so her collection includes inspired folk art and lesser-known artists alongside Kandinsky, Man Ray, Rothko, Mondrian and Joseph Cornell. Major modernists also contributed custom interior decor, including the Calder silver bedstead hanging in the former bedroom. In the corners of the main galleries, you’ll find photos of the rooms as they appeared when Peggy lived here, in fabulously eccentric style. Read MORE here.
I think I should not comment on this, as it was only my first ever visit, the only thing I know that a day for this is not enough… at least one day for Arsenale and the other for Giardini…and better take a brake between these two. We were also advised by a local to tour around Venice and make stops at other Biennale sights, which are usually closed when the event is over. So, I’d say not less than 5 days for this wonderful art event.
Still on my list:
Ca’Corner della Regina – managed by Fondazione Prada.
Negozio Olivetti – Olivetti showroom by Carlo Scarpa. Remarkable example of 20th century Italian architecture.
EAT OUT & HANG OUT
One thing is clear now, if you want to have perfect dinner in Venice and not get caught in the tourist traps, you have to book in advance. By “in advance” I mean not a day before, but maybe a week before, otherwise all the best places are full and no possibility to get a table. But, here is a list of restaurants worth visiting.
Alle Testiere – famous for its succulent grilled razor clams and impossibly fresh seafood dishes, the intimate venue has tempted big names like Marion Cotillard and Meryl Streep along with a loyal local clientele.
Linea d’Ombra – this contemporary designed restaurant uses crystal, wood, steel and fur in its decor. Dine on modern cuisine inspired by tradition, while enjoying the breathtaking view over the Giudecca canal.
Antico Pignolo – in 1930, the Antico Pignolo Restaurant was opened and was frequented from the very beginning by an elegant and exclusive clientele. Over the past thirty years, the establishment has been run by Riccardo De Pietri and attention to detail, elegant service and refined menus have become the restaurant’s guiding principles. Boasts a cellar containing 900 carefully selected wines from every corner of the world. Repeatedly acclaimed internationally, the cellar has for a number of years been receiving the Best Award of Excellence for the best wine list in the world.
Grab a drink in legendary Harry’s Bar, where first Bellini was served. Since 1931.
Act like a local and visit Cantina del Vino Già Schiavi (992 Fondamenta Nani), aka Cantinone or Al Bottegon, a wine shop-cum-bar. Local customers include dapper older gentlemen and jovial police officers. A few doors along is Osteria al Squero, which is even cheaper: crostini are €1 and wine is from €1.20 a glass. At both spots you can eat outside by the canal. We went there one night and met a nice gentleman Alex, who told some secrets about Venice, so just don’t be shy and you will learn a lot.
INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT
Rialto market on Saturday mornings.
Walk along Zattere promenade and grab an ice cream at Gelateria Nico, which was opened in 1937.
For old all kinds of books visit Libreria Acqua Alta – very strange place, but worth visiting.
When I arrived in Venice, I decided – will never buy the masks as a souvenir…until I stopped in front of Ca’del Sol.
Visit the city’s oldest working gondola yard, the 17th-century Squero di San Trovaso. It’s one of just two surviving squeri in Venice – look out for Lorenzo, the master boatbuilder, hard at work.
Well, it’s all by now! See you next time, Venice!