Venice

Best City Secret

Basilica di San Pietro di Castello

This first Venetian Basilica, situated in the largely residential neighborhood of Castello, has stood in this site since the 7th century.

Best Cultural Secret
Printing Shops
In the 1500s, Venice was the capital of publishing and printing, especially San Polo. Walk to Rio Terra Secondo to see the former printing press of Aldo Manuzio, the inventor of italic type (it’s at number 2311 in the palazetto).
Top Architecture Find
Chiesa di San Pantalon
The church is capped by an incredibly intricate painted ceiling by artist Giovanni Antonio Fumiani, who died during its creation and is buried on the property. (39-041) 523-5893.
Museum Must-See
Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation
Arty types gather at this two-story gallery, which dates back to 1888. Expect contemporary and historic exhibitions featuring artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Frida Kahlo. (39-04) 15-23-78-19; www.bevilacqualamasa.it.
Best Newcomer
Palazzo Grimani
This newly restored marble palace hosts rotating exhibitions, but the building itself is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture. (39-41) 52-00-345; www.palazzogrimani.org.
What to Buy
Chocolate from VizioVirtù
Dragées (cocoa-covered candied fruit and nuts), semi-freddos and mousse make this sleek shop a chocolate lover’s dream. Try the Juliette Binoche, dedicated to the actress who starred in the film "Chocolat." (39-04) 12-44-03-01; www.viziovirtu.com.
Best Activity/Excursion
Island Hopping
Motorboat tours of the lagoon include stops at the islands of Murano (for glassmaking shops), Burano (to see the lace-makers) and Torcello (with its Byzantine churches).
Best Cocktail with a View
Linea d’Ombra
Right on the Grand Canal, this beloved piano bar is a peaceful place to sip coffee or wine; in the evening you can watch live Jazz and funk performances. (33-041) 241-1881; www.ristorantelineadombra.com

Hotels

Bauer Palazzo

Venice, Italy

The Bauer Palazzo offers a taste urban Venetian lifestyle. Located in the full heart of the city, near Piazza San Marco one cannot miss its unmistakable 1940s façade. Beautifully adorned by 40s and 50s style furnishings, this hotel offers spacious and luxurious suites and guest rooms. When not in their rooms, guests may choose to relax or socialize in the spacious salons and lounges or on one of two outdoor terraces which offer unparalleled views of the Grand Canal.

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San Clemente Palace Kempinski

Venice, Italy

Lush gardens, antique courtyards, a historical church built in the 12th century – San Clemente Palace Kempinski, a former monastery, takes guests on a journey in time. It is located on the private island of San Clemente, just ten minutes away from Piazza San Marco by boat – crossing the historic waters of Venice, the boat ride is already an exceptional experience getting visitors in the mood for an outstanding stay. Guests may discover Venice – but they do not have to. Rooms and suites provide the perfect privacy and relaxation, surrounded by lush gardens or overlooking the Venice lagoon. Soft classic décor and traditional high ceilings meet Venetian style always recalling historic times. For the culinary delights, there is typically Italian Cuisine, in a culinary variety: modern Venetian haute cuisine at Acquerello, interactive atmosphere at Insieme or relaxed pool dining at La Dolce. Moreover, the private island provides every facility for leisure time one could possibly think of: whether it is a tennis court or a golf course, the heated outdoor pool, the jogging trail or the kid’s club – the perfect location for relaxation and action alike.

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Baglioni Hotel Luna

Venice, Italy

Like a character from a Donna Leon novel, the Baglioni Hotel Luna is cloaked in history. A stone’s throw from St. Mark’s Square, the palazzo dates to 1118, and throughout the years has undergone transformations from a convent into an aristocratic palace and even a shelter for the Knights Templar. Today’s hotel brims with original details, like ornate stucco walls, Murano chandeliers, watercolor paintings and gold fixtures. In the Marco Polo ballroom, reimagined as a spectacular dining room, the original ceiling frescoes are attributed to pupils of Tiepolo, the 18th century Venetian painter. Instead of playing second fiddle to the priceless art throughout, the culinary offerings hold their own, especially at award-winning Canova restaurant, renowned for its menu and extensive wine cellar from St. Mark’s Square, the Baglioni Hotel Luna is cloaked in Venetian history.

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Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa

Venice, Italy

Housed in a historic palace originally designed by renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, this boutique hotel reopened in 2006 after a complete and doting restoration undertaken by its owning family. Set on Venice's Giudecca Island (historically Venice's garden place), the retreat is complemented by an all-natural organic spa with holistic treatments and rituals for couples and friends. The rooms and suites are decorated with floral tapestries in pastel palettes and adorned with terraces overlooking either the gardens or the lagoon. Best of all is the experience upon arriving via the hotel's solar-powered boat: the atmosphere and sounds of the garden immediately propel guests into an oasis of serenity.

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