Venice – La Bellissima – one of our favorite European cities! And, our go to hotel is the San Clemente Palace tucked away on its own island in the Venice Lagoon. Venice, for us, is a special place filled with secret piazzas and streets that are made for getting lost. Yes, Venice can be crowded, noisy and sometimes overwhelming. Some people even feel that the summer time canal smells are not endearing! But once you get away from the chaos that is San Marco and the Rialto area, the city takes on a different look. Venice is meant for wandering and getting lost. And when your day is done, nothing is more relaxing than the San Clemente Palace private boat back to your small bit of heaven!
Arrival into Venice is spectacular whether you come by plane into Marco Polo airport or by train into St Lucia station. No matter how you arrive, be sure to arrange for a private taxi to meet you and take you to the San Clemente Palace’s island – the Hotel concierge can arrange this for you. The boat trip itself is a wonderful introduction to Venice. The San Clemente was once a Monastery and has been converted into a Hotel complete with a spa, swimming pool and fitness center. The rooms are good size by Italian standards and come with views of the lagoon or the Island grounds. Breakfast is served on a wonderful terrace (weather dependent) which also becomes an evening cocktail rendezvous.
The private launch runs a regular schedule between the hotel and St Marks. Once there, you can begin exploring all that Venice has to offer. Look for the small trattorias and cafes that the locals visit. Find the perfect small piazza overlooking a canal and just sit and people watch while enjoying a coffee or local wine. In the evening take in a Vivaldi concert followed by dinner in one of the many restaurants located outside the Tourist areas.
Venice is much more than the main districts. Arrange for a private taxi to take you to some of the smaller islands – Burano, Murano, Torcello amongst others. Enjoy lunch, explore the area and then have the driver take you back to St Marks or the Hotel by way of the many smaller canals. A gondola ride is a must for first time visitors but stay away from the St Marks area and the Grand canal – find a gondola stand on some of the smaller canals.
Need to know: Originally, the San Clemente Palace was privately owned, then for a short time was managed by St Regis. For the past few years it has been a Kempinski hotel. I heard a rumor – nothing but a rumor – that Four Seasons may take it over. Do not be alarmed by this management merry go round; it is The San Clemente Palace and the Island that are the draw. You can certainly stay closer to the action but, you will pay dearly for a small canal view room and be surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of your new best friends.
NOTE: The San Clemente used to be a Monastery. And, has it’s own church on the grounds. It’s been remodeled / restored and is breathtaking inside. The grounds, lush and green with lots of seating areas, features large bronze works.