Are you looking for a weekend away from Geneva? I’ve just returned from Venice after a few decades of being forgotten. In my memories, there were a lot of pigeons and tourists. It now feels like the trend has reversed. So if you too are allergic to selfie sticks, follow the guide – all roads do not lead to Saint Marc’s piazza.
There are calmer and less crowded streets. Cannareggio will delight you. Maybe you will even find a room in a convent, like We_Crociferi – both a hotel and campus, the coffee is delicious, and the concerts, DJ sets or movie showings liven the courtyard on some nights.
I decided to elect the southwest of Dorsoduro island as my exploration zone. But my cosy nest will remain a best-kept secret for the insiders. The Biennale is in full swing until November, the palaces, open to the public for several exhibitions, are havens rich in contemporary art. The Palazzo Contarini Polignac has two different spaces. In the basement, the Maggazino, the French Claudine Drai, accompanied by an embroiderer, Hubert Barrère, a poet, Olivier Kaeppelin, and a Michelin-starred chef, Guy Martin, present “Le Lien des mondes”. It is a play where silk-paper angels blend with words, costumes and edible artworks. Magic is guaranteed.
Higher up, through another entrance, winners of the Future Generation Art Prize 2017 are exhibited. Questions asked by Kameelah Janan Rasheed (Are we there yet?) will affect you each time. Another must-see : the thousands of shoe boxes by Ibrahim Mahama.
A few streets over, is the Pavillion de Grenade, which hosts the under-water sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor. If you appreciate Mark Tobey’s work, it is on display at the Peggy Guggenheim museum. But be prepared, the place is somewhat overcrowded.
Proceed on to the monumental Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, which houses the works of Titian and Tintoretto. It is liberating and refreshing to find oneself amongst ancient stones.
On the second day, (departure by vaporetto), the trip to the gardens of the Biennale only becomes pleasant once Saint Mark’s Square is behind you. A 24-hour pass will allow you to discover: the incredible Russian pavilion with the artist Grisha Bruskin; a geyser by Geoffrey Farmer in the transformed Canadian pavilion: partitions and an open roof to allow the water, which unexpectedly appears at the end of a board, ricocheting from the top, to splash you. A favourite in Japan, the meticulous and dreamlike works by Takahiro Iwasaki, “reflection model (perfect bliss)”, like a temple floating in the air.
After visiting all those pavilions, let yourself be tempted by a vaporetto escape towards Fondamente Nove, take the first stop on the way to Burano, the colourful island 30 minutes away from Venice. In the evening, around 8pm, hitch a ride on a half-empty boat and enjoy the light mist and golden lights. On the island, the first restaurant is already closed, but further away in the heart of the island, at the Trattoria da Romano, where De Niro, Kubrick or Hemingway went, feast on fish, risotto or an incredible dessert (meringue cakes). Before leaving, you must walk through the toilet hall – a true sanctuary of mementos from celebrities met.
So have sweet dreams and quickly book your plane ticket, it’s so close and even if the city is rather expensive for Italy, the trip is not!