Italy Travel: The Many Ways to Experience Venice

The Belmond Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca Island is one of several five-star properties in Venice.

Venice offers experiences that will appeal to your family clients, as well as experiential travelers, art aficionados, shopaholics and foodies. A great way to get an overview of “La Serenissima” is to take Context Travel’s Venice by Boat tour, which focuses on the rich history and architecture of Venice.

On the events calendar, the famous annual pre-Lenten Venice Carnival (January 27 to February 13, 2018) isn’t the only big festival to experience in the city. The Festa del Redentore is held annually over the third weekend of July and offers some exciting summer moments for both visitors and residents. The church of the Redentore (Redeemer) on Giudecca Island is the focal point of the festival; pontoon bridges are erected to allow visitors to walk across the lagoon. There are colorful boat races, with decorated watercraft and neighborhoods. It all culminates in the fireworks on Saturday night, which are not to be missed and can be seen from all over the city.

The “Voga alla Veneta” (rowing, Veneto style) competition takes place every year on the first Sunday of September and includes a historical parade with replica of 16th-century boats and gondoliers in their traditional costumes. 2017 is the 25th anniversary of the first publication of author Donna Leon’s popular mystery novels about the city. Brunetti’s Venice walking tours, which following the paths of Leon’s detective Guido Brunetti, are given by Toni Sepeda, a professor of literature and art history, the only guide authorized by Leon. Individual or group tours, which run one to two hours, are available by appointment, Thursday through Sundays, from September through late May. Those who visit during the summer may buy Dr. Sepeda’s book of walking tours, “Brunetti’s Venice,” and explore independently.

For art lovers, the Art Biennale running through November 26 may be the main reason for visiting the city. This year’s theme, “Viva Arte Viva,” focuses on the artists themselves and promises dozens of international exhibits. While in the city, another must-see is Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Damien Hirst’s solo exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi. The show, 10 years in the making, continues until 3 December 2017 and tickets may be bought online at ticketlandia.com. The Venice Film Festival is scheduled for August 28 – September 8, 2017, providing visitors with dozens of choices of new films to see.

Shoppers have been in Venetian heaven since the new T Fondaco dei Tedeschi opened this past fall next to the Rialto Bridge. The luxury shopping complex is installed in a 13th-century palazzo, which was updated by world-renowned architect Rem Koolhaas. Three hundred brands can be found in the four-story building, along with a rooftop terrace and event pavilion and the AMO ristorante, whose consulting chef, Massimiliano Alajmo, was the youngest chef ever to win three Michelin stars. The AMO bar is a great place to take a break from shopping and do some people watching. See more at www.dfs.com/en/venice/stores.

Venice is brimming with places to stay, including such venerable properties as Belmond Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca Island, the Gritti Palace overlooking the Grand Canal and, on its own private island, the San Clemente Palace Kempinski. Boutique options include the Oltre il Giardino, the former home of composer Gustav Mahler’s widow in San Polo; the Ai Reali Hotel in Castello, which occupies a former 17th-century palace; Ca Maria Adele and its Mini Palace; Palazzetto 113, a B&B near the Peggy Guggenheim Museum; and Ca’ Sagredo, especially popular for weddings.

It’s impossible to starve in Venice, where restaurants, cafés, bars, and fish and produce markets abound. Suggest Osteria Acqua Stanca on Murano Island, Da Fiore in Campo San Polo Vecio Fritolin near the Rialto Antiche Carampane, Antica Carbonera and Caffè Centrale in San Marco, and the Skyline Rooftop Bar at the Molino Stucky Hilton on Giudecca, with its panoramic views of the city. For a touch of the sweet and divine, you can recommend pastry and coffee at the perennially popular (since 1720) Caffè Florian in San Marco.