Let’s face it, there’s no ugly corner or calle in Venice: it’s truly stunning and charming through and through. No matter how many times I’ve visited before, I always feel the same awe and wonder when I’m there. My senses are instantly awaken by the unmistakable salty smell of the laguna, the sound of the vaporetti (water buses), and the shiny reflection of the palazzos on the water.
Considered the most beautiful and unique city in the world, Venice is always crowded with thousands of visitors every day who stroll the labyrinth of calli, piazzette, and campielli to get to the focal point: the glorious Piazza San Marco, an outdoor museum in its own right. There are plenty of landmarks to see on this square, which Napoleon once referred to as “the drawing room of Europe”, but St. Mark’s basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs are the main attractions.
Growing up only an hour away from the lagoon, I visited La Serenissima on different occasions, the most memorable ones being the Carnevale (the most famous Carnival in the world with locals and tourists wearing traditional gorgeous costumes and masks), the Regata (scores of 16th century-style boats with gondoliers in period costume carry the Doge, the Doge’s wife, and all the highest ranking Venetian officials up the Grand Canal in a brightly coloured parade) and, New Year’s Eve (I celebrated the arrival of a few new years in St. Mark’s square dancing my boots off). I also had the honor of going to the International Film Festival in 2004 at the premiere of a movie I worked on. The 70th edition of the International Film Festival is currently under way and will screen the movies in competition until September 7th.
The International Film Festival is part of La Biennale, one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Ever since its foundation in 1895, the Biennale has been promoting new artistic trends and organizing international events in contemporary arts. Since the art exhibitions take place every other year, as the name suggests in Italian, I decided to go visit it. I went to see the exhibitions at the Arsenale (the largest pre-industrial production centre of the world where the Serenissima fleet was once built). Hundreds of art pieces and installations are displayed in different pavilions organized by theme and country.
I couldn’t leave Venice without having a delicious Bellini at the legendary Harry’s Bar, the place where it was invented for the first time in 1948. This bar is as legendary as its prestigious guest list, which included Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Truman Capote, and Peggy Guggenheim, among others. Ernest Hemingway was a staple here, too: He had his own table in a corner. Oh Venice, what do you do to artists?