Our travel editor Rosie Paterson visits the beautiful Ca’di Dio in Venice, with a medieval exterior, modern interior, and beef from cattle reared eating chamomile.
Europe’s most beguiling city — by my standards anyway — turns 1,600 this year. No small feat for a small (less than 500sq km) patch of land originally inhabited by down-on-their-luck refugees from neighbouring Roman cities. They were pushed from the mainland and onto the shallow Venetian lagoon’s 118 islands by successive invasions, where they established a republic that would stand for more than a millennium, shaping trade, commerce and Western art and architecture.
Now, a new hotel, in the city’s Arsenale district (a 15-minute walk from St Mark’s Square) has emerged, just in time to celebrate: the exotically-named Ca’ di Dio Hotel. Although parts of the cream-coloured, austere-looking building, which overlooks the lagoon towards San Giorgio Maggiore and once belonged to the military, date back to the 13th century, it feels very much like the 21st century on the inside; the perfect addition to a city already populated by very gold, overly ornate hotels. Look out for the light fittings in Murano glass in myriad shapes, sizes and colours.
Some rooms overlook the hotel’s two courtyards, others a canal to the west, where you can disembark from a private water taxi, and the lagoon to the south. (There is currently building work taking place on the far side of the canal, so ask for a room away from it if you like a long lie in.)
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At the in-house Vero restaurant, order a herbal-tasting spritz, made to a secret recipe, and the butter-soft beef, which is sourced from the north of Italy, where the cattle graze on chamomile.
The restoration of a Venetian palazzo by the architect John Simpson has unexpectedly revealed a splendid 18th-century decoration scheme, Clive