Buongiorno, Bella Venezia!
Crack your piggy banks and polish your walking shoes because it’s Biennale year and words can’t even begin to describe how much of a must this is. There’s nothing like it. The Venice Biennale is an institution in itself, an international stage where world events have played out; it’s the most important art exhibition; a nucleus where Art History is constantly taking place and it’s on for 6 months so there is no excuse for missing it. Plus – Italy, summer, risotto frutti di mare and pasta alle vongole, Aperol Spritz – shall I go on?
After a series of failed attempts to capture in words the Biennale’s history, its importance, meaning and relevance to the world of art in a few sentences, I had to give up. Luckily this fabulous man, Oscar Boyson, didn’t and he made this ultra-fantastic video.
4 full days of your life are needed to absorb the Venice Biennale
San Marco, Dorsoduro Est and Castello are the areas where you want to stay because they are central. There are all sorts of hotels, just dig a little! Taxis cost between 60€ and 120€ for a trip so opt for the vaporetto (water bus), it takes a little longer but it’s the best option. Time is money and whatever you’re not spending on where you stay, you’ll spend waiting more and seeing less.
Corte Sconta – Delicious, ultra-local and ultra-Venetian restaurant located in Castello. Great for lunch or dinner as it has a beautiful outdoor patio in the back. Make sure you order Bacaalà Mantecato as a starter, it’s a signature Venetian dish and it’s served over polenta…!
Ca D’oro alla Vedova – This small, cozy place is located close to Ponte Rialto and it doesn’t get more local than this. You’ll be the only tourist there and that’s a good sign. Order pasta alle vongole, because you’ll remember it forever. Make sure you call to reserve before before hand.
Trattoria Alla Madonna – This little gem is hidden in an alley just off of Ponte Rialto and I recommended going for dinner as that’s when the ambiance is buzzing. This is seafood heaven especially during summer so make sure you order the granseola (crab) with a little olive oil and lime. Then try risotto frutti di mare and ask for Lucio, the owner, he’s the nicest man and loves sending prosecco to the table as a courtesy to all those he deems friendly!
Hostaria da Franz – Don’t be thrown off by the decor of the place, you’re here for the food! This is where I had my last meal on a sleepy Sunday night. It’s a mix of home cooking meets minimalist Venetian cuisine. I walked out of there on a cloud still savoring the pasta with truffles.
Florian – This is not only the oldest and most beautiful café on Piazza San Marco, it’s the oldest café in the world. Go for a morning coffee or better yet, in the afternoon when your feet are aching, the band is playing live, the sun is setting and you know that only an Aperol Spritz will bring you back to life!
L’Ombra del Leone – Tiny, local spot for a sunset drink by the Grand Canal.
Attilio Codognato – This jewelry store is very close to Piazza San Marco. Even if you’re a man – go see it! I believe that only very few people can afford to buy anything here as they sell antiques but it’s like falling down a tunnel and waking up in Marie Antoinette’s Versailles. The shop is tiny and exquisite.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco – In all the times I’ve gone to Venice, I had never heard of this place and now I know I’ll make sure to go back to it every time. San Rocco is an austere building on the outside but inside, on the second floor, it is covered in Tintoretto’s frescos. People spend so much time there staring at the ceiling that the Scuola even has mirrors that you can borrow to look into so that you can give your neck a rest!
Mercato di Rialto – You’re in Italy! Go feast your eyes on this fruit and fish market. Everything is so fresh and ripe, I promise you you’ve never seen as many kinds of tomatoes as there are here. As its name states, this market is located by the Ponte Rialto and it’s only open until noon except on Sundays. Then…
Walk over (2 minutes) to the Cichetteria – it literally means ‘little bites’. Have a million little bites of fresh Venetian tapas and another million little sips of all kinds of wine by the water.
Art – In Order of Priorities
Giardini – This is the historic park where the first 30 countrys’ permanent pavilions were built in the late 1800’s. It is located just beyond Castello, by the water. The vaporetto stops right infant of the entrance to Giardini.
Arsenale – These amazing warehouses made of exposed brick, concrete and very high ceilings used to be Venice’s shipyard. Today they are part of Biennale where countries that are not part of Giardini have their pavilions. Everything is larger than life.
Palazzo Fortuny – This was once the home of the great Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish dress maker and fabric designer who died in 1949. His palazzo is lined with his fabrics and all the group exhibitions held here are integrated into the decoration of the house. It’s also full of intricate objects that he collected through out his life. The best group exhibitions of modern and contemporary art are held here. A little bird told me that the palazzo’s curator, Axel Vervoordt, will be leaving after this show so don’t miss it!
Palazzo Grassi & Punta Della Dogana – both located on the Grand Canal at different points, these two contemporary art museums were inaugurated in 2006 and 2009 to house Francoise Pinault’s art collections. This year both buildings are hosting Damien Hirst’s infamous Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable and it really is unbelievable (mostly because of the sheer scale of the works). This exhibition has critics on the edge of their seats.
Whether you go for the art, the food or the scenery, Venice will never ever disappoint you.
Travel changes lives & Art prolongs it.
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