As a frequent visitor and the mastermind behind New York’s Save Venice Gala earlier this year, event planner Bronson van Wyck knows the Italian city of Venice inside and out. Here, he shares his wonderful guide to La Serenissima…
“The heartbeat and energy of Venice is anything but sinking. A hypnotic labyrinth of islets and canals brimming with history and culture, Venice is truly an endless discovery.
“Truman Capote likens the city of Venice to the experience of eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go: slightly overstimulating, but in the best possible way. Everywhere you turn there is something to grab your attention — the flash of a painted ceiling, the art in a hotel lobby, the embellishment on a door, the daily traffic of the gondolas and vessels in the canals, walking, walking, more walking, people watching in the Piazza, the eating, the drinking, the warm sunshine in the summer… A trip to Venice should be followed by a trip to Tuscany, where you can take a nap.
“Take a look at Feast of the Gods, my absolute favorite painting and one of the greatest Renaissance works. The brainchild of Venetian art master Giovanni Bellini, Feast depicts what was formerly known as a bacchanal — essentially the 16th century version of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, otherwise known as one great party.
“I usually like to stay at the Bauer Palazzo, a Venetian jewel, but on my next trip I may spring for the Aman Venice and stay in one of its sumptuous old salons.
“The Palazzo Ducale, also known as Doge’s Palace, is a great first stop. Go early, before the piano players, pigeons and pedestrians consume the square. The multicolor stones and the chevron-patterned floors in the Scala d’Oro are mesmerizing.
“The perfect cultural mix of old and new can be found at the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana. These buildings, constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries, are now home to some of the world’s most cutting edge modern art. It’s fascinating how this historically rich city is always looking towards the future.
“As you wander, keep your eyes and ears open, because you never know what hidden gems you might discover. Trying to find my way to a museum I once stumbled upon the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, a small palazzo best known for its external multi-arch spiral staircase, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. The climb to the top is well worth it for the stunning views of the rooftops of Venice and beyond.
“A trip to Italy is never complete without ruining your summer fitness goals. What better place to feast to your heart’s content than at Ristorante Lineadombra, where you can enjoy traditional Venetian cuisine while soaking in breathtaking views of the Giudecca Canal.
“All’Arco is a lunchtime favorite, known for their refreshing, authentic fare and beloved by locals.
“Cantine del Vino già Schiavi boasts one of the best wine cellars in town. Located across the street from the Squero di San Trovaso (gondola repair shop), you can enjoy a glass of wine and delicious cicchetti while marveling at the craftsmen at work on these extraordinary traditional Venetian boats.
“Several years ago, my father surprised me on Christmas Day with a vintage 1953 gondola that he had created here from Italy. Soon it will have a home on the pond behind my house in Southampton. A self-proclaimed history nerd and now a proud gondola owner, I plan to stop by the Museo Storico Navale on my next trip to Venice. The museum offers a captivating display of old gondolas, ship models and other maritime artifacts.
“On my bucket list is Il Ballo del Doge. A masquerade ball feels every bit authentic when at the Palazzo Pisani Moretta during the roaring days of Carnevale.
“If you prefer to immerse yourself in the culture of Venice without leaving the comfort of your home, the movie Dangerous Beauty is a good place to start. Based on the life of Venetian poet and courtesan Veronica Franco, the film so perfectly captures 16th-Century Venice that it was used as inspiration for the Save Venice Gala in New York this year.” — Bronson van Wyck