What’s left to say about Venice? The town of canals has beguiled everybody from Lord Byron to Ernest Hemingway; its slender streets and bridges have launched a thousand swooning amorous affairs and wedding ceremony proposals.
It’s arduous to get out from underneath the burden of centuries of myth-making to do one thing new, however Palazzo Cristo manages it. This luxurious Venetian palace dates again to the sixteenth century – it was as soon as painted by Canaletto – however fell into disrepair over the a long time. Not that you just’d know – it’s since been revamped into the peak of recent stylish.
After a late flight and a few confused late-night wandering, Mr Smith and I discover it tucked right into a quiet courtyard simply off Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a captivating courtyard fringed with a canal on one facet and a Gothic basilica on the opposite. Self check-in – primarily consisting of tapping in a code to get into the constructing and choosing up a key card left discreetly within the hallway – is a breeze.
We’re booked into Suite III, one in all two one-bedroom residences within the constructing (bigger events can go for the 2 or three-bedroom suites). Palazzo Cristo definitely has the wow issue – the excessive palace ceilings and authentic beams are fortunately intact, however the furnishings are ravishingly up to date, with luxurious velvet upholstery and delicate cherry blossom flower preparations.
The lavatory alone, decked out in smooth Carrara marble and travertine stone, is bigger and arguably extra tasteful than most one-beds in London. Mr Smith and I crack open the complimentary bottle of prosecco chilling on the marble desk in the lounge and toast to our lengthy weekend in La Serenissima.
The morning brings new delights: Rosa Salva, a beloved household bakery that has been turning out pastries since 1879, is mere seconds away. We deal with ourselves to aromatic pistachio croissants earlier than firing up the Nespresso machine at residence for an espresso.
The kitchen is totally geared up with Miele oven and cooker – there’s even a dishwasher – and considerate provides like Twinings tea and olive oil. However we actually had no have to prepare dinner; there are greater than sufficient eating places within the neighborhood to entertain the pickiest foodie. (Our favorite? La Zucca, a sleekly intimate vegetarian restaurant that serves a pumpkin flan that briefly made me see God.)
Nonetheless, we couldn’t resist popping to the retailers to have a look at the native produce. Open-air Rialto market was a brief stroll away, simply over the sweepingly ornate Rialto Bridge. For many who want a extra fashionable grocery store expertise, there’s a Despar outlet quarter-hour from the palazzo. This being Venice, nonetheless, it’s additionally set in a fascinating venue – the previous Teatro Italia, as we later came upon – which should make it one of many solely locations in Europe the place you may store for fruit and veg underneath frescos.
On our second day, we beelined for the enduring websites of St Peter’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, rolling away from bed early and embarking on the 10-minute stroll to the general public sq. Napoleon as soon as referred to as ‘the world’s most lovely drawing room’. Fortunately, it was so early – like 8.30am – that we shared it with a flock of noisy seagulls and never a lot else.
I’ve to confess, I used to be slightly frightened about visiting Venice – the tales of vacationer overcrowding didn’t precisely fill me with confidence for a romantic vacation. By late morning and afternoon, San Marco crammed up with tour teams and selfie sticks – we even needed to queue to cross a bridge. However Venice rewards wandering: we discovered that strolling even a couple of minutes down an alleyway or two was sufficient to lose the crowds.
Palazzo Cristo – regardless of its brief distance to the primary sq. – feels particularly faraway from this hustle and bustle. Though our window missed the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a unprecedented landmark in its personal proper, we noticed solely locals going about their every day enterprise. On the finish of a day of traipsing spherical town, it was a welcome haven, notably due to a discreet housekeeping service that left our suite spotless on daily basis.
On our ultimate night, the full of life bars and eating places of Fondamenta della Misericordia beckoned. After a fast pit cease to clean up at residence, we ended the night time on an outdoor desk at Il Paradiso Perduto, an osteria standard with households, nibbling crisply-fried soft-shell lagoon crabs and watching the moon rise within the sky – no different vacationers in sight. And all this, inside a 15 minute stroll from our suite.
Turns on the market are nonetheless a thousand issues you may say about Venice, a metropolis that’s each lovely and completely walkable. The one factor I’d add? A serviced condo is all effectively and good should you come armed with a hefty record of ideas from buddies, as we did – however newcomers to town ought to be aware there’s no concierge so do alternate emails with their ever-helpful group upfront. That, and bear in mind your strolling sneakers.
Zing Tsjeng is editor-in-chief at Vice UK and a journalist, podcaster and writer, specialising in ladies’s and LGBTQ rights, politics, tradition and life-style. Her four-book sequence Forgotten Girls, which explores the untold tales of inspiring ladies who’ve been marginalised from historical past, is revealed by Octopus.