Today marks the start of the annual Venice Film Festival, it’s a stunning backdrop for film-buffs to explore while taking in the best of film culture. We’re looking at five more things to do in Venice as a culture lover – shying away from the traditional tourist traps, we’ve asked our insider Marco Borghi to lift the lid on some more hidden but equally enjoyable picks.
Venice Adventure Theater
Combining exploring hidden spots of Venice with an interactive theater adventure including learning about the history of Venice and completing clues. The experience is perfect for immersing yourself while doing something a bit different. Check out Venice Adventure Theater.
Enjoy the Historical Regatta
Every year on the first Sunday of September this event commemorates the Queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, coming to Venice, which marked the beginning of the Serenissima rule over the Mediterranean islands. Venetian style rowers in colourful and ornate boats compete to take the spoils of various races. Splurge for a special lunch at the Gritti Terrace @ Gritti Palace Hotel – a front row seat on the Grand Canal to enjoy fine dining and the colourful races. There’s live commentary, stories and anecdotes to add to your experience. It’s a unique spot allowing you to enjoy the regatta display without worrying about all the crowds.
Follow in the Footsteps of Don’t Look Now
Don’t Look Now is a 1973 British-Italian cult thriller set in Venice. It’s a creepy, tantalizing view and shows a grittier side of the city. If you haven’t seen the film you should definitely watch it before going to Venice. You can organize your route around the city to include locations from the movie taking in some of the slightly less beaten tracks while you’re at it.
Ristorante Roma – Next to Ponte degli Scalzi, this long-standing restaurant is where Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland first meet two psychic sisters. Unfortunately the restaurant isn’t somewhere you’ll want to eat as it’s one of the very common awful eateries that plague Venice. But for posterity’s sake you can take a couple of pictures of the outside.
Palazzo Grimani (at the junction of Rio di Santa Maria Formosa and Rio di San Severo) – In the Castello district along with Calle di Mezzo is the haunting backdrop for Donald Sutherland chasing the small figure in the red hood. Exploring the crevices and tiny streets, especially at dusk evokes some of the film’s eeriness.
Chiesa di San Stae – This church looks almost the same as it does at the end of the film. The quaint 17th century Church is on the northern curve of Canal Grande.
Make Your Own Venetian Mask
There are plenty of tourist shops selling mass-made masks (often in Asia) but Ca’Mancana still makes all their masks in their workshop by hand. You can make your own masks to take home at one of their classes or workshops. The only way to buy a Venetian mask, in Marco’s opinion, is at Ca’Mancana. Stanley Kubrick even sourced the masks for his film Eyes Wide Shut here.
Go tasting Prosecco in Prosecco!
Prosecco has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance over the past few years. Marco informs us, this means there are an increasing number of wineries producing the fizzy goodness. The region of Prosecco is only 30 miles from Venice and easily accessible by car. Avoid the massive group tours and go for the smaller options with people really in the know about the best wineries. Marco recommends Orianna’s tailored tours – 4-5 €200 for up to 6 people. For larger groups and a lunch included try The Prosecco Girls.
We hope you get your culture fix next time you’re in Venice!