Visiting Venice in winter, out of the main tourist season, can be wonderful! The crowds are fewer, the lines are shorter and the more ‘authentic' side of Venice tends to be much easier to find. While strolling along its ‘calli' (streets) you can drive out
In addition to a plethora of museums and exhibitions, Venice is packed with boutiques and small artisan shops showcasing a variety of unique products. Between visiting one attraction and another you can take refuge from the cold and indulge in a relaxing break at one of the city's delightful locales. For those in search of a different experience, here is a pick of our favourite addresses.
The tea ritual
If you're looking for somewhere special to have tea, a go-to place between October and March is the Oriental Bar at the Hotel Metropole on the Riva degli Schiavoni (www.hotelmetropole.com). This bar boasts a warm, welcoming atmosphere, a great selection of blends, including the exceptional Himalaya Shangri-La white tea from Nepal, and charming, professional luxury 5-star service. A visit to the Metropole is also a great opportunity to view the owner's magnificent collection of antique objet d'art: you'll be totally spellbound! If you're loathe to leave the hotel's warm, cozy atmosphere, you can linger longer and end your visit on a high note by dining at the property's Michelinstarred Met Restaurant.
Have a hot chocolate
If you're a lover of hot chocolate, a mustvisit address is Castello 5988. Located just around the corner from the Rialto bridge, this charming district is home to VizioVirtù (www.viziovirtu.com). Established in 2005, this artisanal chocolatier promises to satisfy even the most discerning palates. Its windows are always beautifully decorated with chocolate sculptures and its owners offer a chocolate making class at which would-be pastry chefs can learn how to make tantalizing mousses and truffles. If that sounds like too much work, you can indulge in a chocolate tasting event, learn about the history of chocolate
or even sample VizioVirtù's Goldoni hot chocolate that uses water instead of milk as per the playwright's original recipe from the 1750s. Since numbers are limited, we suggest that you make a reservation at in[email protected]ziovirtu.com. This is also a great place to purchase a mouth watering souvenir to bring back home as a gift for family or friends.
The kingdom of artisanal pastries
A good choice for those wishing to indulge in a pleasant break while visiting St. Mark's Square is Caffè Lavena (www.lavena.it).
This delightful venue, whose atmosphere is reminiscent of a Viennese Kaffeehaus, is renowned for its extensive selection of teas, coffees and artisanal pastries. Said to be the favourite hangout of Richard Wagner, who composed numerous scores while sitting at its tables, this old-world café, decorated with exquisite antique furnishings and Murano glass mirrors and chandeliers, is currently a member of the Historic Venues of Italy.
The café boasts an unrivalled view over the square, dominated by the imposing Basilica of San Marco with its breathtaking mosaics.
Opened just over a year ago in the atrium of the recently remodeled T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the luxury department store owned by the DFS Group, has become a reference point for discerning Venetians in search of welcoming place to meet for business or pleasure (www.alajmo.it). AMO is the fruit of collaboration between the Alajmo brothers and Philippe Starck: its well-spaced banquettes, designed to ensure the utmost privacy, invite guests to relax and converse freely.
In addition to a fabulous selection of coffee blends and organic teas, AMO offers an astute selection of pastries, bite-sized cakes and macarons, as well as an interesting assortment of savoury delicacies that will not disappoint.
SWEET VENETIAN ATMOSPHERES
Opening page: considered by many to be the oldest cafés in Europe, the classic neo-baroque Caffè Florian is located in the heart of St. Mark's Square.
This page. Top, the evocative atmosphere of the Oriental Bar at the Hotel Metropole; below, Venice offers some of the world's best coffee and pastry shops, from the Viennese-style setting of Caffè Lavena to the more contemporary ambience of AMO (right), housed in the atrium of luxury department store T Fondaco dei Tedeschi.