Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Venezia Recommendations

My old buddy JH recently contacted me asking for recommendations for an upcoming trip to Italy. I told him that I knew nothing about Italy, but passed his questions on to someone who did. I think the response from AL sounds so good that I’m putting it up - along with some location info for some of his recommendations - in case others find it useful.


It's been too long since we're been in Rome -- there are some wonderful restaurants, but they're gone from my memory. I don't know how long you're staying in Rome, but our advice would be to knock off the must-see sites, such as the Coliseum, as quickly as you can -- they are truly awe-inspiring, but you should try to leave time to enjoy Rome as a big city.

We were in Florence in April of 2007, when we stayed at the Bristol & Helvetia. It was a perfectly fine luxury hotel, but I think there were more interesting places to stay. We had a fabulous meal at Cibreo, but I can't remember the other restaurants. I think we had looked in Frommer's and Fodor's and consulted with the concierge. The restaurants we went to were highly recommended and were delicious.

You are lucky I don't have time to give you a detailed run down on Venice. We love the food and the hotels. There is some mediocre food, but all these restaurants are terrific (and expensive!)

  • Hotel Cipriani: Travel Leisure says this is one of 10 best hotel restaurants in the world. A beautiful and peaceful site!
  • Gritti Palace: In addition to being one of the very best restaurants in Venice, there is no view in the world comparable to that of sitting on the Restaurant deck overlooking the Grand Canal.
  • La Cusine at the Europa-Regina Hotel: a very fine restaurant, also with a great deck on the Grand Canal, and good views from inside the restaurant as well. The fish is superb. The menu seems a little more local than some of the others.
  • Harry's Bar: the food is very good (usually!), and the scene is the liveliest in Venice. Be sure to specify that you want to sit on the first floor.
  • Antico Martini: A restaurant for well over 100 years (maybe 200 !) - the food is wonderful and the service delightful.
  • Graspa De Ua: A little hard to find, by the Rialto Bridge. The most Venetian of all these restaurants, it was recently bought and refurbished by Lucio Zanon, a very likeable and ingratiating young man whom we know from Harry's Bar in Venice and Harry Cipriani's in New York. Wonderful fish!
  • Harry's Dolce: a wonderful lunch spot. Great club sandwich and pasta and risotto.
  • Locanda Cipriani on Torcello: a wonderful garden restaurant on the island of Torcello, site of ancient church ruins. This is a twenty minute (water) taxi ride from San Marco, but easily reachable by the wonderful Vaperetto (water buses). A good day-trip is to visit the glass ovens in Murano and the lace-making in Burano, with lunch in between at Torcello. All three are on the same Vaperetto line, and breaking up the travel-time helps. When you arrive at Torcello, check the departure times for the Vaperetto.
  • Fiaschetteria.Toscana: a lovely, small garden restaurant near the Rialto. It's been in the same family for years, and the food and service are terrific.
  • do Forni: an old favorite -- high quality food and service. We haven't been there for several years.
  • The Terrace at the Danielli Hotel - wonderful service and incredible view. The food is elegant, if not quite as good as the Gritti.

There are some terrific expensive hotels, but also some lovely hotels at more moderate prices. We used to stay at the Gritti, which has wonderful suites (but some of the rooms are not impressive), but for the last few years we have stayed at the Europa-Regina. It's not quite as elegant as the Gritti, but they have a few rooms and a few suites with walk out balconies, so you can sit and watch the activity on the Grand Canal. We know of no other hotels with such an amenity.

We don't like the Danielli as much. The Cipriani is on a small island in the lagoon -- about a five minute boat ride from the main island of Venice. We have had some wonderful stays there, but recent articles suggest it has become a little dreary. Last time in Venice, however, the Cipriani had the best fried scampi in Venice.

If you are tempted by the Lido, the Hotel Excelsior is terrific.

All of these are Starwood Hotels except the Cipriani. It's easy to find them on the web. Many of the restaurants have web sites as well.

The guidebooks will tell you the must-see sites, and they are all knock-outs. But everyone also advices to make time just to wander around the city, window shopping, popping into churches, having a coffee in a little square.


AL’s list certainly goes in my “someday” pile!!

Hotel Bristol & Helvetia
Via dei Pescioni, 2
50123 Firenze (FI), Italy

Cibreo Srl
Via Andrea Del Verrocchio, 5/R
50122 Firenze (FI), Italy

Hotel Cipriani & Palazzo Vendramin
Giudecca, 10
30133 Venezia (VE), Italy

Hotel Gritti Palace
Campo Santa Maria del Giglio
30124 Venezia (VE), Italy

Locanda La Cusina
The Westin Europa & Regina Hotel
San Marco 2159
30124 Venezia (VE), Italy

Bar Harry's Bar
S. Marco, 1323
30124 Venezia (VE), Italy

Ristorante Antico Martini
Sestiere San Marco, 2007
30124 Venezia (Veneto), Italy

Hotel Graspo de Ua
San Marco 5094
30124 Venezia (VE), Italy

Harry's Dolce
Giudecca 773
Fondamenta San Biagio

Locanda Cipriani
Piazza S. Fosca, 29
30012 Torcello Venezia (VE), Italy

Ristorante Fiaschetteria Toscana SAS
Cannaregio, 5719
30131 Venezia (VE), Italy

Ristorante Do Forni
S. Marco, 457
30124 Venezia (VE), Italy

La Terrazza
Hotel Danieli
Castello 4196
30122 Venezia (VE), Italy

The Westin Excelsior Resort, Venice Lido
Lungomare Marconi, 41
Venice Lido
30126 Venezia (VE), Italy


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