Lost And Found In La Serenissima

Palazzo Venart’s Front Office Manager Uncovers The Hidden Gems In Her Adopted City
Alice Dionisio, front office manager at Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel.
Alice Dionisio
Front Office Manager, Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel

“It’s mandatory to get lost in Venice, it’s part of the beauty,” says Alice Dionisio, who relocated to la Serenissima from Milan to join Palazzo Venart’s opening team. “Because I moved to Venice and I’m not from here I experienced this myself. That’s how you discover the little alleys and less crowded areas. I think it’s really an adventure.” Since she moved, Alice has loved getting to know the city’s hidden gems and sharing them with guests of the hotel.

As front office manager, she’s one of the first people you’ll meet upon walking through Palazzo Venart’s peaceful garden and entering the dazzling lobby with its restored frescoes and chandeliers. Though she lives just one stop away on the vaporetto, she usually walks fifteen minutes from her home in Cannaregio to the hotel via the Ponte degli Scalzi—one of the four bridges that crosses the Grand Canal. From the hotel’s garden, she can see her adopted neighborhood full of weathered buildings, restaurants, and shops.

Enter Palazzo Venart through a private waterside garden from the Grand Canal.
Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel

Opened in August, 2016 after a painstaking, two-year renovation, the restored 15th century palazzo welcomes guests through a private garden which opens directly onto the Grand Canal, a rare find in Venice where historical palazzi, churches, and museums sit right at the water's edge. Original details throughout include Renaissance frescoes and marble fireplaces, and antiques and custom furnishings to display the Palazzo’s noble past. 18 individually designed guest rooms and suites feature décor like Rubelli damask wallpaper, terrazzo floors, and Murano chandeliers.

Local Recommendations

Explore La Serenissima With Palazzo Venart’s Front Office Manager, Alice Dionisio

When she isn't working with General Manager Angelo Rizzi, the concierge, and the housekeeping staff to make sure everything is running smoothly, Alice takes to the streets and canals of Venice, visiting art museums and historic sites. Venice’s maze of narrow alleys and interconnecting canals provides a never-ending chance to stumble upon Renaissance architecture, mouthwatering gelato, and ateliers where artisans and craftsmen blow glass and make other handcrafts. Here, the hotel’s welcoming front office manager reveals her favorite places in her adopted city.

The Happiest Hour

Savor Venetian Cicchetti, With A Spritz

The world-famous Aperol Spritz traces its origins to Padova, just west of Venice, so it’s no surprise that it’s the cocktail of choice for aperitivo all over the Veneto region. Do as the Italians do and pair yours with tidbits like cheese, prosciutto, crostini, and other snacks. Venetians call these small bites cicchetti, and you’ll find them in bars and osterias throughout the city. In Cannaregio, Fondamenteria della Misericordia is home to several great venues, including Al Timon (2754 Fondamenta degli Ormesini; +39-041-524-6066), where you can sip a Spritz and nibble on cicchetti on a boat docked in the canal. In a lively square called Campo Santa Margherita in Dorsoduro, Osteria alla Bifora (2930 Campo Santa Margherita; +39-041-523-6119) is another great option. The atmospheric restaurant sports traditional Venetian charm, with dark wooden tables, a marble bar, and Murano glass chandeliers. Alice recommends the creamy whipped codfish known as baccalà mantecato, and sarde in saor (sardines in a sweet and sour sauce made with onions and raisins)—two of the most quintessential cicchetti you’ll taste in Venice.

Enjoying waterside cicchetti in Venice. Photo courtesy of Michela Simonici.

The Sweet Life

We All Scream For Ice Cream

The best gelato in Venice? It’s impossible to choose just one place, but luckily there are three excellent gelaterias near the hotel—perfect for a sweet treat after a romantic dinner at the on-site Ristorante GLAM, helmed by acclaimed chef, Enrico Bartolini. Known for his Michelin-starred restaurant in Milan, Bartolini has embraced Venetian cuisine, sourcing vegetables from Giudecca Island, buying fish from Rialto Market, and growing his own herbs in a corner of the hotel’s garden.

A couple of blocks away, Fontego delle Dolcezze (1910 Santa Croce; +39-041-721424) scoops artisanal gelato with unusual flavors like ricotta and pear. The charming Gelato di Natura (4455 Strada Nova; +39-340-286-7178) serves super-creamy delights made using the highest quality ingredients, including fresh fruit and Sicilian pistachios. Majer (1630 Santa Croce; +39-041-721-1415), part of a chain of bakeries, cafés, bars, and ice cream shops, is the most commercial of the three. You’ll spot the name all over Venice, and can count on it as an emblem of quality.

A selection of artisanal flavors from Gelato di Natura. Photo courtesy of Gelato di Natura.

Hidden Gem

Scale An Architectural Masterpiece For Spectacular City Views

Between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge, a little-known masterpiece of Renaissance architecture is worth a visit. Commissioned at the end of the 14th century by Doge Andrea Contarini, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo (4303 San Marco; +39-041-309-6605) is a beautiful staircase in the shape of a snail’s shell. The construction mixes Renaissance, Gothic, and Byzantine elements, resulting in a structure that’s been compared to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A loggia on the second floor leads to the Sala del Tintoretto, a gallery of 16th and 17th century paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto, Nicolò Bambini, and Sebastiano Ricci. After admiring these masterpieces, keep climbing to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Venice’s red rooftops, narrow canals, domed cathedrals, and the bell tower of the Basilica di San Marco.

The view from the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. Photo courtesy of Fondazione Venezia – Servizi Culturali.

Fatto A Mano

Watch Glassblowers On Murano Island And Lace-Makers On Burano

Venice’s strong tradition of artistry and craftsmanship is alive and well on the outlying islands of Murano and Burano. Alice and the team at Palazzo Venart are happy to arrange a half-day tour combining the two isles. A private water taxi will pick you up in the morning and bring you to a glassblowing workshop called Linea Arte Murano (1 Fondamenta Manin; +39-041-736845). After the demonstration, you can shop for original vases, chandeliers, goblets, and other decorative items.

Wander around and have lunch or go straight to Burano. With its brightly painted houses, this little island is perfect for photo ops. There, you’ll visit Dalla Lidia (215 Via Galuppi; +39-041-730052), a museum and atelier where artisans still hand-embroider intricate lace clothing and textiles the same way they’ve been doing for centuries.

On the colorful banks of Burano. Photo courtesy of Peter Visser.

The Sporting Life

When On An Island, Watersports Rule

Venice’s canals aren’t just for gondolas and water taxis—spend some time walking around and you’ll see people kayaking and rowing. Voga alla veneta is a style of rowing that dates back to the 6th century and is still practiced on the lagoon. Instead of sitting, as you would in a canoe or kayak, voga alla veneta involves rowing standing up in a shallow wooden boat resembling a gondola. Avid rowers compete in races, like the Regatta Storica that occurs the first Sunday of every September.

Try it yourself with Row Venice (468/B Santa Croce; +39-347-7250-0637), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving la Serenissima’s aquatic culture. Take a standard 90-minute lesson or opt for a 2.5-hour session, with stops for cicchetti. You can also do a guided kayaking tour of the lagoon with Venice Kayak (1858 Castello; +39-346-477-1327).

Learn the ancient art of voga alla veneta during your next trip to la Serenissima. Photo courtesy of Row Venice.