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See + Do

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Italy

701 Dorsoduro, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni
Venice 30123, Italy
Tel: 39 041 240 5411

When poor little rich girl Peggy Guggenheim's personal art collection was turned down by London's Tate Gallery in 1949, she brought it to Venice. It was a lucky windfall for the city. Guggenheim moved herself and her 20th-century collection—much of it produced by the men she collected, including Roland Penrose, Yves Tanguy, and Max Ernst—into the delightful Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal. The collection, which grew to incorporate works by Dalí, Klee, Picasso, Mondrian, Duchamp, de Kooning, Pollock, and Man Ray, among others, is now a must-see for modern-art buffs.

Open Wednesdays through Mondays 10 am to 6 pm.

See + Do

Palazzo Grimani, Italy

4858 Castello, Ruga Giuffa
Venice 30122, Italy
Tel: 39 041 5200 345

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).

See + Do

Palazzo Grassi & Punta della Dogana


The Venetian contemporary-art empire of French luxury-goods magnate François Pinault now covers the Grand Canal–facing Palazzo Grassi and the superbly restored 15th-century Punta della Dogana customs warehouses at the tip of Dorsoduro, across the lagoon from St. Mark's Square. Once an exhibition space owned by car manufacturer Fiat, 18th-century Palazzo Grassi was taken over by Pinault in 2005 and refurbished by architect Tadao Ando to stage major shows of contemporary art—most of it drawn from Pinault's own collection. Ando was also behind the makeover of the Punta della Dogana space, which opened in 2009. Critics complain that neither venue is being used—as initially promised—for shows of anything but Pinault's possessions, but most contemporary-art fans can find something to love in the selections from this mighty repository that go on show at the two venues. And the Punta in particular is worth a visit as a fascinating piece of architecture in its own right.

Palazzo Grassi open Wednesdays through Mondays 10 am to 7 pm during exhibitions only. Punta della Dogana open Wednesdays through Mondays 10 am to 7 pm during exhibitions only.


See + Do

Gallerie dell'Accademia, Italy

1050 Dorsoduro, Campo della Carità
Venice 30123, Italy
Tel: 39 041 522 2247

Since 2005, this repository for centuries of stunning Venetian art has also been an obstacle course of scaffolding and builders' clutter. Ongoing renovations mean that some rooms, floors, and even outbuildings have been off-limits to visitors. Still, the viewable collection of lagoon-city masters, including Paolo Veneziano, Mantegna, Giorgione, Titian, and Tintoretto, doesn't disappoint. And when the Grandi Gallerie dell'Accademia—as the final restored galleries will be called—open in their entirety in late 2007, they will have been worth the wait. The exhibition space will have doubled to almost 40,000 square feet, which means there will be room to display 650 works instead of the current 400. In the meantime, look for gorgeous narrative works like Bellini and Carpaccio's Miracle of the Relic of the True Cross on the Rialto Bridge, and Carpaccio's Life of Saint Ursula; both are exquisitely detailed depictions of 15th-century Venice.

Open Mon 8:15–2, Tues–Sun 8:15–7:15


Antica Birraria La Corte, Italy

2168 San Polo, Campo San Polo
Venice 30125, Italy
Tel: 39 041 275 0570

Pizza isn't Venice's thing, so you'll find nothing in the lagoon city to match the pizzerie of Rome or Naples. But this contemporary space on airy Campo San Polo is as good as you'll find here and has a warm, welcoming vibe even if you're dining with unruly young children. Besides pizza, there are interesting salads, a selection of pasta courses, and absolutely no fish…though a little meat sneaks onto the menu. In good weather, tables spread out into the square.

Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 7 to 10:30 pm.


Alla Botte, Italy

5482 San Marco, Calle della Bissa
Venice 30124, Italy
Tel: 39 041 520 9775

Campo San Bartolomeo is fast being overtaken by the Rialto market area as the city's nightlife hub, but this busy little bacaro tucked just off the square has stayed popular. Come aperitivo hour, you'll have a hard time elbowing your way to the barrel-shaped bar (botte means barrel), but once there, you can choose from 30-odd wines by the glass. You can also sample the excellent cicchetti and feast on Venetian staples like tagliolini with scallops or ink-stewed cuttlefish with polenta. Allow around $40 without wine for two courses.

Open Mondays through Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays noon to 3:30 pm and 7 to 10:30 pm, Sundays 7 to 10:30 pm.


I Figli delle Stelle, Italy

70/71 Giudecca, Zitelle
Venice 30133, Italy
Tel: 39 041 523 0004

A fresh new arrival on the Giudecca, I Figli di Stelle is run by three friends who met as student activists during Italy's mid-'70s protest years (the name is that of a popular song that was adopted as a kind of anthem by the student movement). But don't expect grungy radical chic; this is actually a light, bright, and stylish contemporary restaurant with a magical location overlooking the Punta della Dogana and St. Mark's across the water; outside tables on the wharf provide a ringside seat. The pan-Italian menu reflects the origins of its owners—one Venetian, one Roman, and one from Bari in the deep south. It's simple but tasty fare: fava purée with a salad of mixed seasonal vegetables; cavatelli with mussels and haricot beans; baked lamb with sun-dried tomatoes. The small, well-priced wine list is slanted toward the surrounding regions of Veneto and Friuli. There is live jazz here some evenings, with visiting musicians from the Cini Foundation on the nearby island of San Giorgio.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays noon to 2:30 pm and 7 pm to midnight.

Met Restaurant


Osteria Santa Marina, Italy

5911 Castello, Campo Santa Marina
Venice 30122, Italy
Tel: 39 041 528 5239

In a quiet campo near the Rialto, this upmarket osteria with its beamed ceiling and polished dark-wood bar gets all the details right: The various breads are all made in-house, and the intervals between courses are filled by tiny amuse-bouche dishes. The seafood-focused menu includes first courses like creamed borlotto-bean soup with fresh chunks of tuna, and ravioli stuffed with turbot and mussels in celery broth. Follow this up with fried soft-shell crabs and tender artichokes, or bream filet with asparagus au gratin. The warm chocolate tart dessert is locally—and deservedly—famous.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.