25 May 2015
A trip through Italy's sinking Serenissima -
if Venice where a woman, she would undoubtedly be Europe's most beautiful mistress...
Beautiful, exiting, without perspective. Dramatic, unsensible - yet irresistible...
I consider it to be the most beautiful city I have ever seen. 5 Years after my first trip I was still mesmerized be the venetian beauty and very exited to go back to the city on water. Albeit visiting Venice is connected to mixed feelings and somehow feels like visiting the past, along with thousands of others. Venice somewhat resembles a dying beauty, a beautiful proud beast refusing to give up as it slowly sinks hopelessly caught in the moore and already swarmed with countless of pests and swarming insects tainting its grand and unmatched beauty. The sad truth is that Venice is polluted and heavily congested, not by cars but by tourists.
I am never fan of tourism, I do not like to walk on Champs Elyseesa or visit commerical restaurants, but in Venice the situation is more severe and less avoidable than other places. Still Venice's beauty shines through all the selfie sticks and 'Gelatos' and like a cinderella nothing manages to conceal its beauty.
I in no way want to keep anyone from visiting - Venice is depedant on tourism and I really believe it is a must see place. The relationship between Venice and the tourists reminds me rather of a unhappy but undissolvable union. And when you go to contribute to this union as I did, here are my favourite venetian locations:
Gritti Palace, the Hotel I stayed at, is at best location, right on the grand canal, with a spacious terrasse overlooking the water for breakfast and lunch. Decorated in over the top royal decor with a LOT of finest Murano and a staff consisting of only that over the top professional male staff that one finds at very selected europeean top hotels in places such as Gstaad, St.Moritz or Monaco or the private clubs in London. These type of 'service' staff are campable to deliver the non plus ultra level of service - they are the guys who manage to refill a waterglass without you noticing. I am always amazed to watch them work & admire them a lot for what they are able to do.
Harry's Bar +
Literally the first place I visited after check in. The Cipriani group has gained a worldwide reputation for Bellinis, Pasta's and the way they present their homemade dessert cakes. When I think of Cipriani I think of pasta and lemon merengue cake - its a brand representing quality italian food with locations all over the world. I have visited Dubai, Ibiza, London (named C of London because of a legal issue) & Monaco - but the origins of Cipriani, whose pasta is now even sold in retail stores like Globus, are in Venice. It is there, at Harry's Bar, where the Bellini was invented and the story began. If you step into the tiny location you find a tiny bar packed with people drinking bellini's from short glasses and snacking green olives. A picture of uniformity - I wouldn't dare to ask the barkeeper wearing the black tie for anything else.
Locanda Cipriani +/-
The Cipriani Group holds several Locations in Venice - including a Hotel and a garden Restaurant where even Lady Diana and the Queen have visited. There you find that exact delicious italian Cuisine that Cipriani stands for - only in a more spacious and beautiful garden environment. I recommend it for daytime lunches so that the beauty of the location can be fully enjoyed. I must say however that the place did affirm my skeptical view regarding concept restaurants - the authenticity gets lost somehow - the service is more rushed and more standardized than in a truly unique and 'original' location where the spirit of the owner and founder and his vision for the place seemed to have penetrated the fibre of every table and chair.
Besides Goldolas and masked Balls, Venice is probably most famous for their exquisite handmade Murano glas. Created in local factories the Glas is used to create anything from table glasses to the impressive chandeliers, to actual pieces of Art and impressive sculptures. The variety is abashing, and a trip to a factory to watch the masters work with the glass and to wander through an exhibition of all variety of creations is definately worth it. It makes glass seem like this magic substance that can be used to create objects of immense beauty. My favourite one is the 'Scream' sculpture seen above - because I love expressionist artwork. I am definitively a 'Munch' mind versus a 'Monet' one.
Trattoria do Forni +++
I really adored this place - the food was perhaps the best that I tasted in Venice. There is not much to say except that its a place serving italian food at its very and I mean very best! Located just 5 minutes by food from Piazza San Marco the entrance is discreet and from the entrance door one gets led through passage to the main restaurant. Right at the entrance there is the display of the fresh fish and seafoods available on the menu.
Da Ivo +++
Don't let yourself be fooled by the basic interior and polkadotted granny napkins - from the coal grill this tiny Restaurant's open kitchen, finest regional cuisine and specialties from Tuscany are served with a lot of attention and care to its guests. The Menu is even explained visually using a plate filled with the raw vegetables - I loved it when the waitor said 'and the pasta of the day is served with aubergine sauce' - holding up a raw aubergine as he spoke - I guess theres one for the americans who perhaps don't know what an aubergine is. Anyways I loved the way the time was taken to explain, and how any wishes where considered & even asked for. Feeling welcome at a place is just such a substantial part of the experience. Another peculiarity about this place is that it is directly accessible per foot through the main door - or per boat, through the WINDOW(!) - what a stylish way to make an entrance! Loved to see the other guests arrive after me through the window with the nonchalance of Mary Poppins. I arrived the 'uncool' way through the door because I didn't know the insiders entrance - but next time I will be sure to arrive by water and stepping casually down over the windowsill.
But for this time my stay at Venice had come to an end. I look forward to a return - even if it is in my dreams - and I hope that you found some of my tipps helpful for your next visit.