Glass Finds Serenity in Venice at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani


NO TRIP to Venice is complete without a walk across the majestic Rialto Bridge or a climb to the top of Campanile Bell Tower. But after a day or two of visiting Venice’s most recognizable sights alongside 60,000 of your closest friends—which is the average number of tourists who fan out across the tiny city on any given day in summer—even the hardiest of travellers will be ready for some Venetian experiences, minus the claustrophobia.

Belmond Cipriani Hotel, VeniceBelmond Cipriani Hotel, Venice

Enter the Belmond Hotel Cipriani—the resort, located on Giudecca Island, is just a 5-minute boat ride from the throngs of humanity swarming Piazza San Marco. But it might as well be an ocean away for the refuge it provides. Built by Giuseppe Cipriani—founder of Harry’s Bar where the Bellini cocktail was born—the hotel’s quiet gardens, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and Michelin-star restaurant have made the resort a favourite sanctuary for Venice’s well-heeled visitors for decades. But travellers in search of some solace need not stay holed up in the Cipriani forever—in celebration of its 60th anniversary this year, the hotel has been busy crafting private excursions for its guests in locales in and around the city that rival the peace and quiet found within its own walls. 

Olympic-Size Swimming Pool at the Cipriani HotelOlympic-Size Swimming Pool at the Cipriani Hotel

Vineyards at the Cirpriani HotelVineyards at the Cirpriani Hotel

One such outing takes place in the heart of the chaotic city centre itself—at the 15th century Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. A climb to the top of the building’s 28-metres-high spiralling staircase, known as Scala Contarini del Bovolo (meaning “snail” in Venetian dialect), offers incredible views of the city. While plenty of Venice’s monuments boast impressive panoramas at their zeniths, the Bovolo comes with something its more famous cousins do not—solitude. The building is located mere moments from the bustling Rialto shopping district, but thanks to its location on a relatively obscure street, visitors can take in the vistas alone, save a curious neighbour or two who might wave from nearby windows. 

The Palazzo Contarini del BovoloThe Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo

The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo was restored in 2016 and is maintained today thanks to a cooperative known as Gioielli Nascosti di Venezia. For a small fee, anyone can take a tour of the striking building with a member of the group. But guests of the Cipriani are also invited to enjoy a private breakfast at dawn in the terrace of the Scala Contarini del Bovolo as the sun rises over the city’s rooftops. The activity requires an early morning, but it’s worth it alone for the opportunity to walk through a near-deserted Piazza San Marco on your stroll to the structure. The meal itself, consisting of fresh fruit, pastries, cheese and coffee, is also a welcome way to steel the nerves before braving that day’s crowds, which will be quickly growing in the streets below. 

A second excursion offered by the Hotel Cipriani is nautical in nature, and appropriately so—few things are more evocative of Venice than a gondola ride through the city’s extensive system of canals. But with 400 of the wooden boats inching through the city’s waterways on any given day, the reality can be less romantic than the fantasy. For a more exclusive water-based experience that is no less Venetian, guests of the Cipriani can experience a journey aboard the newly restored Edipo Re. 

A Journey Through the Venitian Lagoons Aboard the Famed Edipo ReA Journey Through the Venetian Lagoons Aboard the Famed Edipo Re

The antique sailboat famously served as a safe haven for its owner, director Pier Paolo Pasolini, and the soprano, Maria Callas, while the two collaborated on the 1969 film, Medea. After Pasolini’s death in 1975, the Edipo Re was neglected for decades, but was beautifully restored in 2011. Today, the boat is maintained by a local social cooperative that allows those interested in channelling their own inner opera divas the opportunity to charter a ride aboard the famed boat, as it once again glides through the Venetian lagoon. 

Enrico, Captain of the Edipo ReEnrico, Captain of the Edipo Re

Captain of the Edipo Re Preparing Freshly Caught FishCaptain of the Edipo Re Preparing Freshly Caught Fish

On a typical afternoon’s journey, the Edipo Re ventures south along the banks of Lido Island. Guests of the Cipriani are invited to enjoy antipastí of meats and cheeses, paired with locally produced wine, while taking in the sunset. The leisurely ride southward can be enjoyed with nary another soul around—unless you count the spirits who, according to local lore, still haunt nearby Poveglia Island, a former quarantine colony during an 18th century outbreak of the bubonic plague.

Wine Tasting Aboard the Edipo ReWine Tasting Aboard the Edipo Re

The Edipo Re can also sail to Torcello Island, situated at the northern end of the lagoon. Though it was once more populous than Venice, today the town is home to fewer than 100 people, making for a far more serene sightseeing experience than its well-trodden neighbour. The Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which houses Venice’s earliest remaining Byzantine-era mosaics, is Torcello’s main attraction. But a quick ten-minute walk from the cathedral brings you to the equally compelling Andrich Museum, featuring a collection of over 1,300 pieces of artwork by 20th century artists, Lucio Andrich and Clementina De Luca. The Cipriani can arrange for tours of both, as well as the opportunity to chat with local farmers and fishermen who are among Torcello’s few remaining fulltime residents. 

Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta in TorcelloCathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta in Torcello

To gain a full appreciation of Venice, you can’t avoid its crowds completely. A day spent crossing crowded bridges, navigating narrow pathways, and ducking in and out of centuries-old shops is part of the city’s allure—but these well-worn charms will be better appreciated, no doubt, with some much-needed moments of serenity mixed in. 

by David Dodge

Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Giudecca 10, 30133 Venice, Italy
Tel: +39 041 240801
Reservations : 0845 077 2222

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