Palazzo Grimani, Castello, Venice
Tel: 39 041 5200 345
Concierge.com's insider take:
One of the most important stately homes in Venice was finally opened to the public at the end of 2008, after a huge restoration project that felt like it would never end. Pay a visit before the word gets out, as this imposing Renaissance palace near Campo Santa Maria Formosa—which belonged to a 16th-century Patriarch of Aquileia, Cardinal Grimani—is for the time being a deliciously exclusive and uncrowded place to while away an hour or so. Grimani was a cultured man whose vast collection of classical statuary formed the nucleus of Venice's Museo Archeologico. The obligatory guided tour leads you through a series of lofty rooms, some with delightful decorative plaster moldings, others with spectacular ceiling frescoes of bird-filled vegetation by landscape painter Camillo Mantovano; with hardly any furniture to impede your sight lines, this is the Venetian palazzo in all its untrammeled splendor. The only downside is that for the time being, at least, tours are in Italian only; they depart at 9:30 am, 11:30 am, and 1:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays, cost about $12, and need to be booked in advance (this part you can do in English).