Venice is a tiny white brick feather floating on water and Venice is a universe: 118 islands, 160 canals, 447 bridges and an unspecified number of dreams. Love it or hate it, there is no other place like it and there’s no denying that Venice has not just centuries of history behind it but an air of mystery about it. I’ve always thought of Venice as the ultimate movie star: glamorous, secretive, perhaps a little vain but always primed to give a command performance.
Is it any wonder that some of the best hotels in the world are here? I’ve had the pleasure of sipping a Bellini at one hotel that’s actually favored by celebrities too numerous to mention, but including George Clooney. It’s on the island of Giudecca, directly across the lagoon from the Piazza San Marco. To find out what to do in La Serenissima, I turned to Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Belmond Hotel Cipriani‘s concierge, Sebastiano Scomparin, for some expert tips. Born and raised in Venice, the 48-year-old Scomparin received the prestigious award of Les Clefs d’Or in 2002 and he joined the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in 2003. Like many of us, he is totally in love with his inimitable and romantic hometown.
“Venice is really a special and unique town as it is able to show a new part of itself each time you visit,” Scomparin says. “It is an incredible labyrinth full of monuments, old churches, art exhibits, palaces with antique art pieces and more. That is the beauty of this amazing place.” He adds, “There is always a reason to come here: a new important contemporary art exhibit, the reopening of a museum after years of renovation, or simply the chance to discover a sestiere (district in Venetian) off the beaten track.”
Sebastiano Scomparin, you were born and raised in Venice. Whenever I visit, no matter how well I think I know where I’m going, I end up getting lost at least once. But I bet that doesn’t happen to you?
Actually this happens to me as well, a 100% Venetian who sometimes turns into a wrong “calle” (street) by mistake—but then I might find a new unknown corner of the town.
We tend to think of Venice as a pretty ancient place. So what’s new?
“Orsoni mosaics,” a historical factory recently acquired by Bisazza (a top worldwide producer of furnishing accessories, mosaics in particular) has been completely refurbished and has opened its doors to the visitors who wish to discover this world of luxury.
“Chapel Club” is the hot new and unique speakeasy bar in Venice.
What is the best way to spend an evening in Venice?
Venice is one of the most visited cities in the world, so during the day it appears a bit touristy. But after 7:00pm everything changes. In the evening it becomes more real.
Take a walk to Rialto bridge, it is the most lively area. All around the fish market is full of bars, Venetian trattorias and pubs.
I always suggest a drink at Ancòra, a cocktail bar and one of my favorites. Sit outside, slow down, relax and feel the beat of the city. You will fall in love!
For dinner Venetian people like to graze, in fact we are famous for our “bacaros” (a very simple restaurant where you can find a wide selection of cicchetti, the Venetian tapas). We love to migrate from one bacaro to another one and have a wine and cicchetti tasting in each. This is the best way to discover a world of traditions, flavors and local products. Try these: Al Timon, Vino Vero, Antico Pizzo, Do Spade.
And after dinner? Take a gondola or a water taxi to head back your apartment or hotel, maybe with a bottle of Italian champagne, the famous “Prosecco” and…buonanotte.
That sounds wonderful. And more tips?
Yes. Be ready to walk a lot, as this is the best way to discover the city. Also, the best restaurants are the small ones, so make your reservations in advance. Finally, don’t be shy about asking your concierge for more tips, as he or she has all the information you need about what is going on in Venice. If they are a “golden keys” [Les Clefs d’Or] member, that’s even better.