Travel Insights: Montesquieu Winery on the Splendors of Venice ”Queen of the Adriatic”
June 11, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
It’s no secret Montesquieu Winery is fond of exploring wine regions off the beaten track, inspired by the thrill of adventure and discovery as we seek new and exciting sources for our international portfolio of Montesquieu Wines.
That being said, we also relish the wealth of experiences one finds traveling to classic destinations such as Paris, Rome, New York, London, Barcelona and the like. Even though these cities are not wine regions, and not off the beaten track, the opportunities to be immersed in fine food and wine are great with an abundance of world-class dining and top-notch wine lists, plus in many cases wonderful wine regions nearby! Add the museums, shops, and cultural treasures galore, and you have all the ingredients that most consider essential to the art of living well.
High on our list as a must-visit classic destination is Venice, Italy. Founded in the 5th Century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has one of the richest and most distinctive cultural legacies in the world. Once one of the largest maritime republics in the world, the entire lagoon—spread over 118 small islands—has maintained rare authenticity. There is no mistaking Venice for anywhere else in the world, with its interconnected maze of bridges and canals boasting stunning architecture and vistas that leave an indelible impression!
Venice is known by many names including La Dominante (the dominant one), Serenissima (one of the names from ancient times meaning the most serene or lovely), City of Water, City of Masks (from the long history of mask making for Carnival each year beginning the first day of Lent), City of Bridges, the Floating City, City of Canals and the Queen of the Adriatic.
Water, art and romance collide creating a stunning display of world-class examples from the Byzantine, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance periods—and more! There is seemingly no end of museums, basilicas, exhibits and galleries featuring works by some of the world’s greatest artists including Giorgione, Titian (who studied under Bellini), Tintoretto (Titian’s pupil) Veronese and many others.
Venice is known for contemporary as well as traditional international happenings. As a vibrant center for the arts, every two years Venice hosts La Biennale, one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world founded by Venetian mayor Riccardo Selvatico in 1895. This year is a Biennale year, which started in early June and will run through November, featuring world-renowned events, exhibits, workshops, concerts and benefits presenting art, architecture, cinema, dance, music and theater. Highlights include the International Art Exhibition, Venice Film Festival, and International Festival of Contemporary Music.
For accommodations try the aristocratic Luna Hotel Baglioni (a former Venetian palace) in the heart of the city, perfectly situated to visit some of the most famous attractions nearby including the must-see Piazza San Marco and Basilica, the Rialto Bridge, Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Also lovely are Villa F and Il Palazzo , both Bauer Hotels by hotelier Francesca Bortolotto Possati. Villa F is both sumptuous and contemporary, with a huge, inviting garden that is a welcome expanse away from Venice crowds. Il Palazzo is the epitome of Old-World elegance situated on the Grand Canal, adorned with priceless antiques, restored trompe l’oeil ceilings, silk wall coverings, Murano glass chandeliers and many other exquisite touches.
For dining don’t miss the relaxed ambiance at Cip’s Club in the Hotel Cipriani, on the canal facing Palazzo San Marco with alfresco or indoor options, as well as unmatched sunset views. Also fun is Naranzaria, named for the former orange market which occupied the same space. Local chiceti (like Spanish tapas) are fun, with lighter fare including sushi and plenty of local wines and a great view of the Rialto Bridge. Across from the popular Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco is a great find called Il Quadri, recently taken over by two-star Michelin chef Anthony Alaimo. The excellent cuisine and elegant ambiance overlooking the square will surely be a highlight of your Venice dining experience.
Also well-worth visiting is the Glass Museum on the island of Murano and the Lace Museum on the island of Burano. The Glass Museum houses works from the Roman period first through third century AD, as well as the largest historical collection of Murano glass in the world dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, many of which are world-famous masterpieces. Some local shops on the island feature interesting glass making demonstrations The Lace Museum has a collection of more than two hundred rare and precious pieces that chart the development of lace making in Venice from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.
Thankfully for wine lovers Venice is in the Veneto region, home to many delightful wines including Bardolino, Prosecco, Valpolicella, Soave, Bianco di Custoza, and many more including intriguing IGTs. Not only will you have a wealth of local wine selections in Venice area restaurants, but also many other Italian and European wines, too. You’ll be in striking distance to key wine country in Veneto which makes exploring the local wine regions from Venice a breeze. Many day trips or longer are available to Treviso, Padua (Pedova) or Verona, for example, with excellent tours that include vineyard estate visits, tastings, gourmet meals on Lake Garda, walking tours of medieval villages and cooking classes—all sure to delight any wine enthusiast!
As Robert Mondavi often said—attributing the origin to Greek and Roman culture—“Even more importantly, it is wine, food and the arts. Incorporating those three enhances the quality of life.” A trip to Venice meets this criteria and much, much more!