Few are prepared for the sights and emotions upon first viewing the famed La Serenissima — an apt nickname for Venice dating back to the Byzantine era that has been in use for many centuries. The timeless charm of this floating city, built on a lagoon, where wondrous canals and fabled streets open a window to the glorious history, rich cultural heritage, and architectural treasures, together creating one of the most beguiling cities in the world.
Enjoy the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which was the former home of the museum’s namesake, and now houses her personal art collection as well as notable temporary exhibitions and a stunning sculpture garden overlooking the Grand Canal. It is today one of the most important collections of European and North American art from the twentieth century in Italy including works by Rothko, Giacometti, Calder, Picasso, Dali, Mondrian, and Pollock, and an absolute must-visit for anyone with a modicum of appreciation for the arts.
Otherwise, smarten up and head over to Harry’s Bar because no grand tour would be complete without a visit to the famed tavern that has hosted royalty both European and American, including the likes of Truman Capote, Katharine Hepburn, and Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Join the well-heeled crowd who regularly gather at the popular Venetian watering hole for a cocktail and ponder all that has been witnessed in this miraculous city over the centuries.
Nothing stands out as much as the palaces and palazzos of Venice. The grandeur, the ornateness, and the sheer architectural improbability of these extraordinary structures are astounding. Though many have evolved over the years, others remain unchanged. But all still have the same jaw-dropping appeal that leaves visitors agog.
Another of the most prestigious late Gothic palaces in Venice, the Ca’ d’Oro (House of Gold), dates to the 15th century and, like the famous staircase at the Doge’s Palace, evidenced its opulence not only by its resplendent façade overlooking the Grand Canal but also its exterior walls, which were once covered in gold leaf which has sadly faded away.Today, the restored palace houses the collection of Baron Giorgio Franchetti (Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca’ d’Oro) which includes furniture, paintings, medals, tapestries, bronzes and sculptures — most notably important works by Tiziano, Andrea Mantegna, Francesco Guardi and Flemish masters Jan Van Eyck and Anthony Van Dyck — as well as an inner courtyard distinguished by an impressive floor composed of ancient marble mosaics installed by the Baron himself to evoke the aura of early Christian cathedrals.
For those who crave the lived experience of one of these sumptuous palazzos, Venice offers an abundance of outstanding options that offer no less grand an experience than any noble who might have resided in Venice would have expected centuries ago. In fact, The Gritti Palace, the undisputed grande dame of Venetian hotels, dates back to the 15th century when it served as the private residence of the Doge of Venice, Andrea Gritti, and later other noble families before becoming a private hotel in the late 19th century. Today the hotel remains evocative of its aristocratic roots in no small part due to its sweeping collection of priceless art.
The august palaces and palazzos of Venice are a love letter to the city’s heady history and enduring love affair with art and beauty. Whether you choose to simply admire their facades from a gondola, explore their opulent interiors and centuries-old treasure troves of art, or luxuriate in their grandeur as a hotel guest, these architectural wonders promise to not only seduce you but transport you to a bygone era where beauty and art soared beyond what seemed possible or probable and became legendary. Even for bon vivants and gallivants who believe they have seen it all, these living relics of days gone by continue to enchant, which is a testament to the timeless appeal of the floating city on the lagoon where history, art, ingenuity, and opulence converge like no other place in the world.
Likewise, the elegant and historic 5-star Hotel Danieli, also boasts a profoundly noble pedigree. Comprised of three interconnecting palaces that date back to the 14th, 19th and 20th centuries (one of which was home to the noble Dandolo family which produced four family members who would serve as Doge of Venice), this extraordinary property counts lushly furnished rooms with lagoon views, an array of modern amenities complemented with restored designs by the likes of Pierre Yves Rochon and Jacques Garcia and the celebrated Restaurant Terrazza Danieli rooftop which offers spectacular views of the most notable landmarks of Venice among its many emblematic attractions.