La Residenza (Campo Bandiera e Moro – Castello 3608; +39 041 5285315)
The Hotel La Residenza, an affordable gem on the Campo Bandiera e Moro in Castello, is perfect for Venetian visitors seeking a hotel off the tourist track. This restored 15th-century pink marble palace stands in the middle of a quiet neighborhood square, with small rooms opening off a central hall. This location proves ideal for sightseers as public canal transportation is readily available. Additionally, the hotel provides numerous tourist-friendly services, including a free visit to the Murano glassworks. Rates start at 175 Euros.
La Calcina (Dorsoduro 780; 041 5206466)
The halcyon La Calcina has always been an intimate and friendly pensione, frequented by scholars and authors over the centuries, including John Ruskin while he was writing “The Stones of Venice.” It is located right on the Zattere Waterfront, and offers sweeping views of the Giudecca Canal. La Calcina, which has 29 unique rooms and apartments for rent, is a pleasant place in the summer and a cozy haven in winter. Rates from 80 Euros.
The Pensione Accademia (Fondamenta Bollani 1058; +39 0415210188)
This seventeenth century villa in the Dorsoduro was once a private residence, and later, the Russian Embassy. Now, showcasing its artistry and history, the popular hotel sits in the heart of Venice at the rear of the Accademia Art Gallery. The 25 rooms have a spartan quality, but each one offers enchanting views of the canal and the hotel’s delightful garden oasis. Rates from 80 Euros.
Palazzina Grassi offers guests the opportunity to live the ultimate Venetian fantasy. Philippe Starck has redesigned a classical 16th-century property into a magical five-star retreat overlooking the Grand Canal. The beds in the five apartment suites are situated in the center of the room, surrounded by transparent glass wardrobes and large backlit mirrors, so guests will get plenty of close up views of themselves. Coffee tables made of steel and moonstone onyx, soft rugs, and natural stone in the bathrooms soften the look to create a modern but comfortable atmosphere. Rates from US $400.
Eat & Drink
Trattoria Corte Sconta (Calle Pelestrin 3886; 041 522 7024)
Simple but trendy, this trattoria specializes in seafood. The vine-covered courtyard and tavern-like interior belies the complexity and artistry of the pastas and shellfish.
Trattoria da Remigio (Salizada dei Greci 3416; 523 0089)
This reasonably priced, traditional eatery is prized by both locals and visitors, so be sure to book ahead. The Trattoria da Remigio is known for its seafood creations, but a healthy amount of mainland Italian dishes will satisfy anyone looking for something other than treasures from the sea.
Al Covo (Campiello de la Pescaria 3698; 522 3812)
A stroll away from the Piazza San Marco, the charming Al Covo welcomes tourists with fresh seafood and a wide selection of reasonably priced wines.
Al Nono Ristorto (Santa Croce 2337; 041 524 1169)
Hidden away in a covered alley, Al Nono Risorto is another treasure. There is an overall feeling of simplicity, with an unpretentious interior, and outside seating in a pleasant courtyard garden. Simple and classically Venetian meals highlight the menu, and the kitchen serves some of the finest pizza in Venice. The busy staff remains friendly, and the good value makes this a charming spot to stop for lunch.
Linedombra (Dorsoduro 19; 241 1881)
This gourmet restaurant, perfectly situated behind the Church of the Salute, features modern cuisine with traditional values in a warm and elegant setting. A floating terrace provides an intimate view of the Giudecca Canal, a gorgeous spot at sunset, and also perfect for after-hours dining.
Osteria Santa Marina (Campo Santa Marina 5911; 041 5285239)
Osteria Santa Marina sits close to the Rialto Bridge. This reasonably priced osteria offers an updated take on Venetian cuisine. The rough, natural design uses wood, glass, and windows that overlook the campo. While the food will not disappoint, most people agree that dessert is the best part of the meal.
Alle Testiere (041 5227220)
The small but homey spot feels more like a local tavern than a restaurant. Justifiably, it’s earned a large local following. Owing to its limited number of seats, Alle Testiere can be hard to get into, but it’s worth it for anyone who wants to try their complex seafood dishes and sample some local wines.
Ristorante da Raffaele (San Marco 2347; +39 041 5232317)
This uniquely quirky but rustic ristorante serves up traditional Italian cuisine. The expansive interior is composed of banquet halls complete with medieval weaponry and an enormous fireplace. The eccentric interior is pleasantly offset by a charming exterior balcony with a fantastic view of the activity on the canal.
See & Do
Venice has been a center for the arts throughout the ages, and opportunities to see ancient, Renaissance and contemporary art abound.
Punta della Dogana (Dorsoduro 2; +39 041 523 1680)
The Punta della Dogana is most notable for its transformation; what was once a 17th century customs house has become a 21st century art gallery, designed by Japanese minimalist Tadao Ando, who managed to update the structure without damaging its authenticity. The building houses the contemporary art collection of French fashion magnate Francois Pinault.
Vedova Foundation (Dorsoduro 42; +39 041 5226626)
These old salt warehouses not far from the Zattere have been turned into exhibition spaces by Emilio Vedova and his wife to house the famous Venetian artist’s work.
Peggy Guggenheim Foundation (Dorsoduro 704; +39 041 2405411)
Housed in the 18th century Palazzo de Leone right on the Grand Canal, Peggy Guggenheim’s permanent collection holds Cubist, Surreal, European and American abstract and avant-garde sculpture works by some of the most famous artists of the 20th century.
Venice Naval History Museum (Sestiere Castello, 2148/A; +39 041 520 0276 )
Once the finest shipyard in the Western world, the Arsenale still serves as an Italian naval base. Although tourists aren’t allowed to visit the Arsenale without special permission, some of its warehouses have been converted into the Venice Naval History Museum. The museum showcases Italian ships from the Renaissance to World War II, along with other ships from interesting eras and cultures, like Chinese junks and Viking longboats. The museum’s bargain entry price, coupled with the Arsenale’s gorgeous architecture, including the famous winged-lion statue guarding the entrance, make this stop a must for history buffs.
Biblioteca Querini-Stampalia (Sestiere Castello 4778; +39 041 2711411)
For some peace and quiet amidst bustling Venice, the Biblioteca Querini-Stampalia acts as a perfect refuge. Offering more than just a space for books, the building was once a Renaissance palace that was converted into a library in the 19th century. Located between Rialto and San Marco, it stays open until 11 p.m., so it’s remarkably accessible. The library is noted for its redesign by postwar artist Carlo Scarpa.
La Fenice (Campo S. Fantin 1965; 041 786511)
Despite being destroyed by fire in 1996, this opera house was restored to its 19th century glory in 2004. Although controversy arose over using the previous plans to recreate the structure, the interior is a lush example of romantic architecture and design. Opera and symphonic music play regularly. Be sure to catch a performance here at one of the most famous theaters in Europe.
Interpreti Veneziana (San Marco, 2862/B; 041 2770561)
Headquartered in the beautiful San Vidal Church, the Interpreti Veneziana are a robust orchestra who frequently globetrot to musical venues as diverse as St. Petersburg and Tokyo, but always return to play in Venice. Don’t miss a concert here.
Venice is a city of open-air shopping, divided into streets. The Mercato is a sprawling food market just north of the Rialto Bridge, which offers a cornucopia of produce and freshly caught fish.
The main Venetian shopping street, Mercerie, links the Rialto and the Piazza San Marco, and provides a variety of fashion, art, masks, jewelry and sweets for your window shopping and souvenir buying pleasure.
The island of Murano has been famous for centuries for its glass creations, and remains a required visit for any traveler trying to soak up Venetian history, or those waiting to purchase a lasting and authentic keepsake of this historic city.