Three reasons to visit Venice now
–1 Arguably the world’s most prestigious and longest-running (it was founded in 1895) art festival, the Venice Biennale (labiennale.org) kicks off its 55th installment on July 1. Orchestrating this year’s edition, titled “Il Palazzo Enciclopedico,” is Massimiliano Gioni, a 39-year-old associate director at Manhattan’s New Museum and the youngest curator to direct the biennale in over a century. Gioni’s roster for the main event, held in the shipyards of the Arsenale and the Giardini gardens, features commissions by more than 150 artists from three dozen countries; another 88 national pavilions will organize exhibitions of their own, including first-time participants Tuvalu and the Vatican City. The show runs until November 24.
–2 For a building dating back to 1525, what’s 15 months? That’s how long it took Starwood’s Luxury Collection, the new operators of the legendary Gritti Palace (39-41/794-611; thegrittipalace.com; doubles from US$1,368 ), to renovate the hotel’s public areas and 82 rooms, touching up such opulent features as original gold-trimmed ceilings, Murano-glass chandeliers, and rich chatoyant drapes. With its prime location on the Grand Canal, the Gritti is a five-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square and just across the water from the church of Santa Maria della Salute.
–3 Hotelier Adrian Zecha has done it again, this time transforming a 16th-century palazzo into the 24-suite Aman Canal Grande (94-11/ 203-5700; amanresorts.com; doubles from US$1,310). Situated near Rialto Bridge, the just-opened hotel is resplendent with frescoed ceilings and terrazzo floors, alongside contemporary furnishings designed with Amanresorts’ signature restraint. It also stands out for its two private gardens, a rarity in Venice. And arrival, of course, is by boat.
Originally appeared in the June/July 2013 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Three reasons to visit Venice now”)