Venice (Veneto) is amazing. I should not have been surprised since everything in Italy surpassed my expectations. Nonetheless, I was prepared to find Venice overrated. Hooray. It really is special still. I say still because Venetians seem to be sure it is in decline. There are signs (literally) all over that gripe about how AirBnB is ruining Venice or about the pigeons overrunning the squares, or about the canals smelling very bad, etc. Did not experience any of it. It was overcast and rainy and I still found it uniquely, exotically beautiful.
Once I arrived I was frustrated that a work thing in London meant that I only had 28 hours in Venice. With climate change I don’t take going back to places at sea level for granted, so I had to decide what to do with my precious time. I got lots of advice from people on how to enjoy Venice to the utmost and I did more research on Venice than any other place I planned to visit on this trip. (I was bummed to find out that my visit was 2 weeks shy of the Biennale–another reason to return soon.) I bought the 24 hour pass on the water bus/airport bus. I walked a lot with my hotel umbrella and map. And I didn’t stop to eat much, preferring to eat scenery and art instead.
TripAdvisor is my number one travel planning tool. I love how the number 1 ranked hotel is often in the mid-price range (for the location) and generally wins on service. The Hotel Moresco has slipped to #2 since I stayed there in May but you’d be a fool to miss this one. It is one of the best hotel experiences of my life.
The rooms are beautifully appointed and the location is terrific (they even have excellent instructions on how to walk there from the train station). The service from every member of staff I encountered is what made my stay A++. They have a sumptuous breakfast and generous small plates during cocktail hour (included in room stay). They even went out in search of postage stamps for me. I was so sorry to check out. How often do you say that?
I found mooching around the Jewish Quarter rewarding. It was the only part of Venice that felt like a real (non-touristy neighborhood). I sought out the Opera House and only wished I had tickets and time for a performance.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is generally on the B list of things to do–after you’ve seen bridges, churches, squares and gondolas. I have always been intrigued with the idea of Peggy Guggenheim’s life and seeing her home gallery was a priority. More so after reading John Berendt’s wonderful travel memoir The City of Falling Angels. (Same author as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)
The Guggenheim Collection did not disappoint. I loved imagining what it was like to live in this villa and throw fabulous dinner parties and greet your guests arriving by boat on the Grand Canal. It must have been beyond beyond.
The art collection is really quite good, made better by the commentary you can listen to with headphones, or from a docent presentation. The restaurant is expensive, and good quality (not great), but the atmosphere. It allows you to extend your experience in this wonderful environment. I splurged in the gift shop buying a poster even though my walls are not bare and it is a pain to bring home. I just wanted to carry the inspiration with me.
The Collection is open daily 10-6 except Tuesdays and Christmas. It is 15Euro for an adult although check the long list of qualifying discounts. Plan to spend at least several hours to see it all.