The International Writers
Sam North 2007
I am not sure
whether you go to Venice for the history, the romance, the idea
you can go everywhere by water or you just want to see it before
it crumbles but we all have reasons to go there and go there one
you need a lot of cash. Eating out is a huge experience, not just
as a consequence of an over-inflated euro but the simple fact that
every scrap of food has to be delivered to all the many restaurants
by water. In fact, everything has to be delivered by water and it
is not surprising to see cargo trucks being transported by barge
around the canals and backed up to huge doors of warehouses. This
is, in essence the magic of Venice, it is completely different to
your city and mine.
View from Giudecca Island
Back to the food,
a simple dinner for two in a modest restaurant, salad, pasta and half
a bottle of wine could set you back 85 euro. Sixty quid in real money
and you wouldnt even be impressed. So heres my first tip for
visiting Venice, breakfast usually comes with your hotel room, eat heartily.
That said, there are some amazing places to eat and even little nondescript
cafes do wonderful lunches with fresh salads and pizzas at 10 or 12 euros
per serving. If Italians are eating there, then go in, they appreciate
City Cat and view from the Molino Stucky Hilton
My new favourite hotel is the wonderful and stylish Molino Stucky Hilton.
(Average nightly cost via Hotels.com is around £200). The Stucky
is the former flour mill on La Giudecca Island and is now, 250 million
euros later, one of worlds best hotels. No marble has been spared
and the Skyline rooftop bar affords the best views of Venice, day or night,
in fact one of the very few places where you can get an overview of the
city and the islands beyond.
You can dine at the
Aromi restaurant ion the waterfront or il Molino inside
(where a home cooked hamburger will set you back 24 euros but the service
is excellent). Whilst we were dining 20 pretty young girls came down for
dinner, all flown in from Columbia for a sixteenth birthday. That's style.
Take a drink in the Skyline bar at sunset, a good glass of Malbec Argentinean
will cost around 9 euros a glass, not so bad in Venice and theres
an Irish barman wholl take good care of you. You have to be a guest
to use the rooftop swimming pool but it is uber-cool up there.
Molino Stucky Hilton
© Carine Kit Thomas 2007
1: View from Venice
2: View from Skyline bar
Skyline Bar exterior
Sam peering out across city
There are nine floors, 380 rooms, a vast downstairs bar, new conference
facilities opening in September and their own fast boat, I suspect the
Venice Stucky Hilton will be the hotel to stay and be seen in future.
Congrats to Hilton International for rescuing a ruin and making it such
a stunning landmark view in the city.
from Accademia Bridge
The best, and strangest
exhibit is by Sophie Calle in the French Pavilion. Entitled Take
Care of yourself, Sophie had a Dear John, from a lover and
you get a hint of why she got it, but it is impressive.
She handed the letter over to 101 females to reinterpret
in dance, mime, words, act, and song- even clowns! Jeanne Moreau and
many other famous French names as well as one Brit are involved
Every alternate year Venice experiences the Biennale and this
year it is the 52nd International Art Exhibition under the slogan
- think with the senses, feel with the mind- art in the present
tense. It is open in the Giardini and Arsenale main exhibition
venues, and in other venues dotted throughout Venice.
At the time of writing 70,000 people have visited since it opened
on June 10th. It runs until November 2007 and encompasses art,
architecture, cinema, dance, music, theatre
you name it.
Its a bit like an expo experience with art (the second visit
for me having been there seven years ago). Youll need to
set aside a whole day just to see the art and it is exhausting.
Sadly quite the worst exhibit the British pavilion with its pile
of sticks and crudely executed scribbles of a mans penis
by Tracey Emin. Truly an edifying example of the crassness of
Never has a reject letter had such intense scrutiny
Follow this link
to the whole show: http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/exhibition/en/73805.1.html
In the Arsenale, surely
one of the best art venues in the world, (the former armory) the art takes
on an altogether more dramatic mode and its impressive, both in
the space and the art on show but most impressive is the restaurant where
tired feet can rest under the roof without glass. Good prices too and
excellent food. Fully restored, check out the archive building next door
to see images from the previous 52 Biennales. The image above is
a vast curtain made up of labels from tins and jars - it shimmers as if
made of gold.
Sadly this being July,
we shall not be there for the 64th Venizia Film Festival (August 29th-September
8th) the Chair will be held by Zhang Yimou and judges feature Jane Campion,
Paul Verhoeven, Catherine Breillat and more
Ukraine with love - still from a digital movie at Biennale
Its been an important film festival since 1932 and this year Italys
own Bernado Bertolucci will be awarded the 75th Golden Lion and Tim Burton
gets a lifetime achievement Golden Lion. Key filmmakers represented will
be: Woody Allen, Ken Loach, Paul Haggis, Ang Lee,
Wesa Anderson, Miike Takashi, Brian de Palma, Peter Greenaway, Kitano
Takeshi, Eric Rohmer, Kenneth Branagh and Andrew Dominik.
does a hell of a lot of walking in Venice, its also a great place
to rest your legs on the very regular waterbuss that pull in all
over the city and let you take a breather. Tourists spend a fortune on
taxis or visitor boats, but the best deal (if there for five days or more)
is to get the Venice Card (78 euros that will give you the Alilaguna boat
just 7 minutes away from the airport terminal you can walk this,
its a doddle and you get the return trip as well). The Aliliguna
boat takes you quickly through Murano Island to Venice proper and will
deposit you at San Marco pier or Zattere (just opposite the Hilton and
they will come and get you if you are staying there). More importantly
the Venice card gives you a free ride on every waterbus for an entire
week (dont lose it!) and discounts to all the museums, which is
a big bonus if you go to around five museums and the Biennale.
I was uncertain about the Venice Card at first as I though 78 Euros expensive,
but now I have done it and realized just how often we used the waterbuses,
its a terrific bargain. You buy it the moment you arrive at the
airport. You can go right around Venice, trot over to Murano Island glass
museum or go swimming at Lido. More importantly, if staying on Giudecca
Island, as we were, you have a boat coming and going every eight minutes
in both directions.
So, take a trip at
random, right around to the other side of Venice to the stop after the
Hospital and just walk the streets. Youll miss the crowds, find
delightful shady restaurants that wont rip you off and you will
begin to enjoy Venice a whole lot more. Get lost, its truly the
best way to enjoy the city and eventually you come across the Rialto,
or Basilica San Marco or Accademia bridges and the next waterbus to another
Discover the Peggy Guggenheim museum (wish it was just a house really
would be more fascinating to see it as Peggy left it I think). Find La
Chiesa del Redentore and whatever you do, dont use a Gondola
its just too naff and costs a fortune. We saw one guy miming to
a tape as he took his tourists through the canals.
Instead, grab your towel and swimming costume, jump on the 82N going to
Lido and when you land, walk up the main street, (some amazing buildings
to see on the way) and stop at the free beach at the top. (If you really
want a hut, well it might set you back 225 euros for a day, so free beach
it is. The swimming is fine, theres a shower to hose off and a bar
and restaurant and no stink of fish and chips
a big plus. The Italians
love their beaches but they like it comfortable too. (The sand was so
hot I still have blisters, so take flip-flops).
Thats the beauty of Venice, you can tire of staring at ruins and
canals and the crowds so it is always worth taking a swim suit
along, just to escape, even for a few hours. The season runs from May
to end of September. The hotels are huge if you feel inclined and wont
be cheap. (A one-bed apartment sells for around 500,000 euros on Lido,
so its not cheap).
Bored of the
Venice and the beach, well Murano Island is just a short hop from there
and the glass museum beckons. Remember it might look colourful there but
will it fit with your décor at home?
leave San Marco till last. Its a nightmare to be honest. Packed
out all day and what is so special about feeding pigeons? Best to
see the place at 5am I think at first light. And yes avoid the restaurant
s and coffee bars. Hemingway wouldnt be seen dead there now,
so think about that as you pay 20$ for a coffee.
For Kit, pictured right, this was her first visit and she was blown
away by the city - it is unique and this from a girl who has lived
in Amsterdam. More than five hundred years of history packed onto
some small islands and when you think it's heyday was at least four
hundred years ago it make you realise that Venice is a survivor.
Venice, full of art, history, hard to take a bad shot, the pastries
are fine, they, unlike the French totally understand what a Café
Latte is and each café has a toilet, something else the French
dont comprehend. Its a beautiful city and perhaps if
planning a visit, go slightly off season, its less crowded,
theyll be more pleased to see you and you will less stressed.
But go. Everyone should go at least once, do it soon before global
warming takes it away forever.
Kit and I stayed on Giudecca Island at the Domina Giudecca Hotel
check out dominahotels.com
We highly recommend it. Anna behind the desk is a delight and the
breakfast was brilliant.
The Ferrando alleyway is hard to find ask them to repaint
the sign and opening your curtain in the morning to see a huge cruise
ship sail by your window is just plain astonishing. (Or you can
stay on the canalside). *Catch the Zattere waterbus to the island
You can fly there
via Easyjet from Gatwick (It was fine and uncomplicated the check-in
staff were great.)
You can also catch a train there from Londons Victoria station
but the price is murder at £1800 sterling. (But would love to
do it). http://www.orient-express.com/web/vsoe/holidays/3_970.jsp
And heres the Hilton site: via
Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
Giudecca 810, Venice, Italy 30133
Tel: 39-041-2723311 Fax: 39-041-27234900
© Sam North July 17th 2007
Editor of Hackwriters.com
see Sam Hawksmoors latest novel The Repossession
Destinations in Hacktreks
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