Venice. Loved by many, but really known by few. Most often it is identified with the most celebrated places, from Piazza San Marco to the Grand Canal. We, on the other hand, have looked for the most unusual and “secret” ones. To go beyond the stereotypes of a city that while remaining a “dream to live with open eyes”, can still be discovered through itineraries between hidden campielli, in lesser-known places and with walks in history among the more secluded islands of the lagoon.
The charm of Lido of Venice
Follow us on a path that prefers the most “hidden” parts, in a real labyrinth in which it is difficult to navigate, among calli, campi, salizade, rughe, fondamente, rive and “corti sconte”, ie those little squares where the Venetians keep away from the prying eyes of foreigners.
Our journey started from the Lido of Venice, after landing at the Marco Polo airport in Tessera: a completely new experience for us who have always reached Venice by car or by train, but never before with the plane. And seeing it from above is a sight that leaves you breathless.
From the airport to the Lido there is the convenient connection guaranteed by Alilaguna with a journey that lasts about an hour. It was also our first time at the Lido. We had already been there for a walk and an ice cream with our Arturo years ago, but we had stopped only in the area of the ferry landing where the great dome of the Church of Santa Maria Elisabetta stands out, founded in the sixteenth century but restored and expanded during the course of the following century and now unmistakable element of the Lido waterfront.
This time we instead experienced it thoroughly, exploring and also stopping to sleep in one of the island’s most historic residences, the charming Albergo Quattro Fontane which stands in the place where the patrician Daniele Pisani had it built between 1573 and 1575, the first and only “ridotto” or “casino” built on the Lido by the Venetian nobility and then transformed into an inn and then, at the beginning of the 1900s, in a hotel inspired by the typology of “chalets” and “cottages”.
Today it is a hotel as well as a historic residence in the nerve center of the places where the Festival takes place, now in its 76th edition, between the Casino and the Palace of Cinema, which replaced the fort of the Quattro Fontane from which it takes its name, boasts an elegant and peaceful atmosphere, which comes alive especially during the events of the famous event.
It is this closeness and the atmosphere that is still effervescent for the event that has just ended, which has inspired us and led us to create a photo shoot worthy of a diva. Perfect backgrounds for these shots were the long beach that extends in front of the Hotel Excelsior, the splendid 5-star structure with its unmistakable white huts, which at sunset turns into an oriental palace that seems to emerge from the sand.
And the rooms with the precious furnishings of the hotel, a place that still images frequented by a certain affectionate clientele that returns year after year to feel welcomed and pampered as it happens only in these temples, ever more rare, of refined hospitality, reserved also for the our 4-legged friends.
A whole other air is breathed in the small village of Malamocco, which we reached by bus, as the Lido is one of the very few islands to present roads for motor vehicles.
It is one of the first settlements of the Venetian lagoon, known at the time of the Romans as Metamaucum and was the ancient seat of the Doges of Venice.
Our advice? Wander in the ancient village curled up around the bell tower built on the model of that of San Marco, between small squares and quiet streets, to discover one of the oldest churches of the whole island, that of Santa Maria Assunta, Palazzo del Podestà and the canals that make it resemble a less chaotic and more sleepy and popular Venice.
Before dinner, an aperitif based on Spritz is a must, then a short walk along the lagoon to enjoy the sunset that sets the placid waters on fire.
In the background the island of Poveglia, small and totally abandoned, with nature taking over almost all buildings by man. It is said to be inhabited by ghosts: Poveglia has a sinister reputation, due to its disturbing past. In fact, the island, the first military outpost, in the 1700s at the time of the Black Death became a lazaret and here the sick were confined and quarantined, which were then burned and buried right here.
Following this came the legends that wanted it infested by the ghosts of restless souls. To make the gloomy fame worse, the construction of a hospital for the mentally ill was added in 1922. The clinic was dismantled in 1946, but in the period of activity it is said that it was struck by a series of mysterious misfortunes. And even today those who land there tell of mysterious apparitions, disturbing noises and strange moans.
For dinner we go at Scarso, a trattoria like those once loved by Hugo Pratt, one of the most famous cartoon characters and creator of the famous Corto Maltese, who, although born in Rimini, spent his childhood in Venice and was able to express its essence as few in his comics, The angel of the window of the East and Fable of Venice.
Pratt lived for a while in the Malamocco neighborhood, where his mother lived.
The inn, in Piazzale Malamocco 5, has remained as authentic as when he visited it and it is easy to play with the imagination and find yourself in the middle of a comic strip: “Scarso, Scarso, the “sfogio” is ready for Corto Maltese!”.
This is the joke, contained in The Angel of the Window of the East, with which he honored the trattoria that is now part of the history of Venice, given that on his tables, to taste creamed cod and spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, as we did, and obviously sfogi, ie the sole, in addition to the father of Corto Maltese have alternated so many famous people, from Mario Soldati to Federico Fellini.
(End part one)