Contributed by Jens Hoffmann
If you are looking for a luxury modern, fresh, minimalist hotel in Venice, check in at ‘Palace Bonvecchiati’.
There are two ‘Bonvecchiati’ hotels in Venice, next door to each other: the ‘standard’ hotel so called Bonvecchiati Hotel and the deluxe ‘Palace Bonvecchiati’.
Make sure you know which you’re going to, as it may mean arriving at the wrong entrance, our water taxi dropped us, quite literally at the front door, we climbed from the boat using the hotel’s handrail and were in.
First impresson, nice interior design, the hotel gives travelers an exclusive stay from the first moment.
Located in the heart of Venice in Calle Goldoni, just a short walk from Saint Mark’s Square and from the Rialto Bridge; the Rialto stop of the vaporetti that will take you to the Grand Canal and the Venice Lido is only a few minutes away.
The walk through the area around the hotel is a true pleasure: Fondamenta Orseolo follows the canal and will take you to Saint Mark’s Square crossing the Orseolo Basin, a picturesque gondola station (the largest in Venice) that holds scores of boats, creating one of Venice’s most characteristic sights.
After you pass under the portico, you will find the spectacle of Saint Mark’s Square opening up before you. The long porticos of the Procuratie define the perimeter of the Square and frame Saint Mark’s Basilica with its splendid Byzantine shapes adorned with spires, gothic pinnacles and glittering mosaics.
The temple of Venice’s civil and religious life and the maximum expression of Venice’s greatness, for 1,000 years Saint Mark’s Basilica was the Ducal Chapel and Church of State and its interiors are a historical and artistic tour of Venetian civilization of unimaginable wealth. Entirely covered by gilded mosaics that are among the most beautiful in the world, it envelopes the visitors in a unique spiritual and artistic atmosphere.
The light pink mass of the Ducal Palace that faces the Basilica is one of the highest examples of the “gotico fiorito” style and was once the Doge’s residence and the heart of Venice’s political and administrative life. Here, also, the art and grandeur of the interiors will leave you flabbergasted. Salons and teleri (large paintings on canvas covering the ceilings and walls) celebrate Venice’s glory in a succession of masterpieces.
Enjoy a pleasant pause at one of the Square’s historic cafés. Carlo Goldoni, Stendhal, Lord Byron stopped at the Florian and Quadri for coffee.
Just as Saint Mark’s Square is the heart of Venice’s art, history and faith, the Rialto has always been the city’s commercial center.
The characteristic Rialto Bridge crosses the Grand Canal and takes you to the heart of the fruit and vegetable market. The colourful stands offer the early produce from Sant’Erasmo, Venice’s island vegetable garden, some of the lagoon’s crustaceans and fish that, along with the vegetables from Sant’Erasmo are transformed into authentic delicacies on the tables of the Bonvecchiati’s restaurant.
Short stay over in Roma
Our restaurant tip is the “Pergola”
Pergola is within the Hilton Cavalieri hotel, which is perched at the top of a hill overlooking the city. The dining room in on the 9th floor, has fine views out over the city, and is lavishly decorated. The owner of the hotel has a reputedly vast art collection, and the dining room has several pieces on display, including paintings, glassware and furniture. The room has a blue/gold patterned carpet, picture windows and generously spaced tables.
Pergola is laid out along one side of the hotel in which it is situated, the dining room snaking along the top of a hillside overlooking Rome; this layout means that most tables have at least some part of the view, and a spectacular view it is. All of Rome sprawls beneath you, with St Peter’s Basilica just one of
the clearly visible landmarks. The dining room itself is lavishly decorated, with mirrors along the rear wall and lovely pieces of art dotted around the room.
Bread is made in the kitchens, Italian rolls with top class olive oil for dipping, with the flatbread being my favourite of those tried. There was even a salt trolley to complement the olive oil, with a wide array of salts from around the world, from Japan, Hawaii and France amongst others; truly the salt of the earth. Perhaps the most intriguing was a Norwegian salt that tasted slightly of pepper, a sort of all in one condiment. I generally prefer French bread to Italian, but this was certainly well made. The wine cellar here is immense, with 3,000 separate wines available and 60,000 bottles.
We had deep fried zucchini flower with caviar on shellfish and saffron sauce, the courgette flower arranged in a star, the sauce having clean flavours.
First of a trio of pasta dishes was Mezza lune with broccoli, squid and clams. This was delicate, and mix of shellfish and broccoli worked well Fagotelli “La Pergola” is a feature of the menu here, and has remarkably light pasta.
Tangerine risotto with scampi carpaccio and mint was technically skilled and had lovely langoustines.
Following the pasta was a Cannolo of scampi and vegetables, olive sauce and tapioca with Campari.
The langoustines were extremely good, though they are a delicate taste that for us got a little lost amongst the powerful flavour of the olive sauce and the Campari.
Warm emincé of sea bass with vegetables marinated in olive oil was impressive, the fish itself perfectly cooked and with lovely flavour, the excellent vegetables giving a nice light balance to the dish, and a again a sense of the tastes being very clean and pure came through in this dish.
A trolley contained an entirely Italian cheese selection, the cheeses in very good condition. I found a local goat cheese that superficially resembled St Maure was particularly impressive, but the better known cheeses such as Taleggi, Gorgonzola were all delicious.
Thats was more than enough.
Finally orange jelly with ice cream, it was a very pretty dessert.
The wine list is immense, two large tomes, one for Italian wines, one for the rest of the world. A proper 3 star restaurant
Photos: Klaudia Blasl & Jens Hoffmann