Gustav von Aschenbach.
The right name to start talking about a romantic weekend in Venice.
A name that, for those who know him, evokes passionate and exasperated feelings, framed by gondolas and canals.
Gustav is the protagonist of Death in Venice, the character Thomas Mann has invented in the city of carnival. Just as Henry James has chosen this place as the location of his The wings of the dove, and Hemingway a part of Across the river and into the trees.
I’ll go back to Aschenbach, though, because all of his painful passion and secrets cannot find a better frame than the Venetian one, and it is on his footsteps that you can discover the second part of the journey to the Italy which inspired the greatest foreign novels.
One of the great places to get lost during a romantic weekend in Venice is “Sestiere Santa Croce”, the smallest district of the town, the only one connected to the mainland, a place lost between ancient and modern.
Connected through Calatrava’s bridge, the newest of the lagoon city, it is also the one with the oldest craft shops, where you can wander through narrow streets and canals discovering at each and every corner, with surprise, how your gaze can be kidnapped between old and new. The streets are characteristic, accompanied by the lines of small canals and short bridges. A miniature Venice, far from the usual touristic paths, so less frequented.
Here you can fully enjoy the character of the city, breathe it, live it step by step, including characteristic views which can take you back in time.
Here there is a lot of places not to be missed: the workshops; the many churches especially St. Nicholas of Tolentino and San Zae; Ca ‘ Pesaro, headquarters of the International Gallery of Modern Art, the “Fondego dei Turchi”, which houses the Civic Museum of Natural History.
The perfect ending for romantic emotions?
A ride on the ferry along the Grand Canal, better if at sunset.
Watching the profile of Venice, the one that overlooks the lagoon, which glides slowly in front of our eyes, colored of orange and red tones which dominate every sunset.
Visions in front of which not falling in love is simply impossible.
The ferries leave every 10/20 minutes, but after 9.00 pm the rides are reduced. The ticket is 6.50 euros, except for ferry n.1 which only stops once, in Venice’s center, and costs 2 euros.
You can also buy a 12-hour ticket for 16 euros, or a weekly travelcard for 50€.
Where to sleep in Venice during a romantic weekend
To sleep in Venice, and experience this emotions yourself, I recommend the Palazzo Vitturi Hotel, ten minutes walk away from Piazza San Marco.
We were greeted with an unexpected warmth, a smile, friendliness and availability served on a plate. The hotel is located in Campo Santa Maria Formosa, a beautiful, lively square during the day, and quiet at night.
Spacious rooms with large bathrooms, good breakfast buffet, and even a large balcony, at every host’s disposal, which overlooks the square, where one can sit back, have a tea as a perfect English Gentleman and enjoy the romanticism and the spectacle that only Venice can offer.
After all, as Melville wrote: “Rather be in Venice on rainy day, than in other capital on fine one“.