LI­DO DI VE­NE­ZIA

Al­thou­gh the Li­do is Venice's bea­ch, it is al­so mu­ch mo­re. An island, a to­wn wi­th its own hi­sto­ry and a na­tu­re re­ser­ve, it is al­so a jet-set­ters' pa­ra­di­se, wi­th lu­xu­ry ho­tels and ex­clu­si­ve vil­las.

Where Venice - - Shopping - BY ELE­NA BINDA

The Li­do (mea­ning bea­ch in Ita­lian) is a se­pa­ra­te island from Venice. Mea­su­ring less than 200m in dep­th in cer­tain areas, it is a 12km stret­ch of sand, stra­te­gi­cal­ly po­si­tio­ned bet­ween the La­goon and the open sea, on­ly con­nec­ted to the ci­ty and dry land by ‘va­po­ret­ti' or fer­ry boa­ts. The clear dif­fe­ren­ce bet­ween the Li­do and Venice is that the Li­do has real stree­ts, whi­ch means you get around by car. In mid-No­vem­ber, Rolls Roy­ce's, Ca­dil­lac's and Ben­tleys abound at the en­tran­ces of grand ho­tels. Ho­we­ver, to­day, it is con­si­de­red chi­cer to ac­cess the Li­do by boat or ex­plo­re it on foot or by bi­cy­cle.

WHAT TO SEE - The na­tu­re re­ser­ve and wild sand du­nes of the Al­be­ro­ni, re­co­gni­zed and pro­tec­ted by the WWF sin­ce 1997, are the per­fect pla­ce for a quick swim. The area com­pri­ses 160 hec­ta­res of land, in­clu­ding two ki­lo­me­ters of gol­den sand du­nes that ex­tend from Mu­raz­zi to the Al­be­ro­ni dam, and a beau­ti­ful pi­ne fo­re­st. Among other at­trac­tions, the area is ho­me to an ex­clu­si­ve golf club

(18 ho­les) set again­st a stun­ning bac­k­drop of um­brel­la pi­nes and po­plars. Foun­der of the fa­mous au­to­mo­ti­ve hou­se and an avid fan of Venice, Hen­ry Ford com­mis­sio­ned the cour­se in 1926, when he di­sco­ve­red that the­re was no­whe­re el­se whe­re he could play golf.

WHAT TO DO - Don't miss a walk, or even bet­ter, a bi­ke ri­de along the Mu­raz­zi, the re­mains of an­cient for­tres­ses whi­ch are now used as a ra­ce track. Bi­cy­cles are pro­vi­ded by se­ve­ral of the island's ho­tels. If you hap­pen to be the­re at the right ti­me, you will be trea­ted to a brea­th­ta­king sun­set. One of the island's ri­tuals, that you should not miss is ha­ving a ‘spri­tz': the Ve­ne­tian cock­tail or ape­ri­ti­vo par ex­cel­len­ce.

You won't ha­ve any trou­ble fin­ding one at any bar on the Gran Via­le S.M. Eli­sa­bet­ta, the Li­do's pro­me­na­de. If you're not pres­sed for

ti­me you can cat­ch a boat from the Gran Via­le to Pel­le­stri­na (whe­re you can eat fa­bu­lou­sly fre­sh fi­sh, or a sand­wi­ch wi­th fried sar­di­nes), or tra­vel to Chiog­gia, a se­cond, smal­ler Venice that abounds in fa­bu­lous small re­stau­ran­ts.

SPE­CIAL EVEN­TS - For ma­ny years the Li­do has been the play­ground of ce­le­bri­ties and cro­w­ned heads. It all be­gans in the se­cond half of the 19th cen­tu­ry when the in­ter­na­tio­nal jet-set di­sco­ve­red its long san­dy bea­ches. It is the­re­fo­re not sur­pri­sing that in Au­gu­st 1932 the ter­ra­ce of the Ho­tel Excelsior ho­sted the fir­st film fe­sti­val. Then, a spe­cial lo­ca­tion, the Pa­laz­zo del Ci­ne­ma, was as­si­gned to the mo­st gla­mo­rous event of the year, the Venice Film Fe­sti­val. At the end of sum­mer, the fe­sti­val turns the slee­py Li­do in­to a mi­ni Hol­ly­wood, at­trac­ting ri­sing stars of the screen, ea­ger to be pho­to­gra­phed, plus hor­des of fans, film buffs and on­loo­kers.

ICO­NIC LAND­MARKS. Left, da­ting back to cir­ca 1935, this ‘Ani­ma­ted view of the Grand Ho­tel Excelsior on the Li­do in Venice' is a part of the pre­sti­gious Ali­na­ri Ar­chi­ves of Flo­ren­ce. In ad­di­tion to other pri­ce­less ori­gi­nals in al­bu­min, this pe­riod re­pro­duc­tion is avai­la­ble at the La Sa­li­za­da gal­le­ry (pa­ge 35).

Abo­ve, the Grand Ho­tel Des Bains, clo­sed se­ve­ral years ago. Be­low, the "Mu­raz­zi": a bi­ke tour is the be­st way to vi­sit the island.

GOUR­MET TIPS. The ul­ti­ma­te spot for a re­la­xing break, sin­ce it fir­st ope­ned La Fa­vo­ri­ta (be­low) boasts a ti­me­less, in­ti­ma­te am­bien­ce, whe­re di­ners can ex­pect an authentic Ve­ne­tian menu fea­tu­ring a fa­bu­lous se­lec­tion of tra­di­tio­nal fi­sh di­shes.

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