Trip Over to Venice
Al Ponte Antico Hotel
Arriving in Venice at around noon after a 3 hour drive from Como with Milan from Como Limousines, Milan showed us to a water taxi and our Venetian adventure began, it was hard to know whether to just look and take it all in or keep taking photos of this magnificent old city.
As we navigated the Grand Canal I caught sight of the Rialto Bridge in the distance, so knew we were nearly at the Al Ponte Antico Hotel, it came very highly recommended by friends in Sydney who had recently stayed there.
Oliver came out to meet us as our water taxi pulled up, it was like walking into another world as we entered this beautifully renovated palace from the 1500s through the centuries old gates. He took us upstairs and served coffee on the terrace where again we sat agog at the view of the Grand Canal, as we took in how this city of no roads goes about its day. Matteo, the most charming, calm, eloquent, gracious and sartorial elegant gentleman you could ever hope to meet, the owner of the hotel came out to introduce himself to us. He told us a bit about Venice and very proudly, (and rightly so), all about the hotel and the restoration he had done to bring it from the crumbling old palace he bought to the fine example of traditional Venetian interior design it now is.
Matteo then left us back with Oliver who recommended we go and have lunch at La Cantina, while our rooms were made ready. He gave us a map, and told us, “Getting lost in Venice is what everyone does, so don’t worry, it’s really just exploring.” It all looked fairly straight forward on the map, and we went out and promptly got lost! Eventually getting back on track after many more deviations for more photos, we had a very enjoyable lunch, sitting outside looking over Strada Nova watching the people go by. Looking at the map to find our way back to the hotel, I can’t believe we got lost, it’s almost a straight line!!
Oliver had finished his shift by the time we returned, we were welcomed back by Alex who showed us to our rooms – absolute heaven, I never wanted to leave, the furniture, the Murano Glass Chandeliers, the fabric wall coverings with corded edges – I couldn’t stop walking around the room admiring everything.
Breakfast is cooked every morning by Matteo, he whips up eggs and pancakes however you like them and there is the buffet selection (sorry, my photo shows empty plates – but that happens when the food is that good!) of juices, cold meats, fruit and pastries. Coffee is made in the vintage espresso machine and served on the terrace. At this point I very quickly realised that to see Venice I could just stay on the terrace all day watching the Grand Canal and how it is the life force of Venice. Water taxis, gondolas, ferries, barges delivering building materials and produce, barges taking garbage away, water ambulances, water fire engines, water police, water council rangers – everything we have on the roads, they have on the water. As you can see from my many photos taken from the terrace, even though the background is the same, the water traffic is always changing.
The Rialto Bridge was not looking its best as it was undergoing a major restoration while we were there, courtesy of the Diesel Fashion House, but Venice needs constant maintenance and the fashion industry often steps in providing the funds to see that this happens, all over Italy. I have heard criticism of these fashion houses for putting up advertising during the restoration and leaving a small sign afterwards. Personally, I can’t praise the Diesel enough for putting up the money, without them the alternative would be to let history crumble away leaving nothing for future generations to admire, they deserve to use the advertising space, they’re paying an absolute fortune for saving these monuments for all of us.
Alex and Oliver were never short of dinner recommendations, everything from modern pizza restaurants, to traditional home style Venetian food. They are full of information about where to go and what to see, when there will be less crowds, they are both born and bred Venetians and it is lovely chatting with them about Venice in their childhood, compared to now. There is a lot more to Venice than the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco.
One of the most impressive things at the hotel was all the staff always call you by name, without waiting to be introduced. We did find out their secret when we returned late one night and Thomas, the night watchman, who we had not met before, greeted us with a hearty, “Good evening Lyn and Christine, have you had a good dinner?” How did he know our names and that we had been out for dinner? We got chatting with him and he revealed that when we give a photocopy of our passports on arrival, they copy the photo to leave at the front desk and put any relevant notes with it so the change of shift staff are aware of anything they need to know. Perfect, it adds an extra touch to the customer service and is very much appreciated.
Matteo had told us about other hotels that he and his family own, one other in Venice, one where he comes from on the coast north of Venice and a new one he is renovating in Tuscany. I’m sure all Peruch Boutique Hotels will be as fabulous as Al Ponte Antico.
Itinerary for Trip Over to Italy – Milan, Como and Venice
Qantas flight (Emirates code share) to Milan (Malpensa) from Sydney via Dubai
Stayed in Milan, Airbnb, for a week before going to Como
Picked up in Milan by Como Limousines and driven to Como
Stayed in Como, Airbnb, for 3 weeks
Picked up in Como by Como Limousines and driven to Venice
In Venice, water taxi to Al Ponte Antico Hotel for 3 nights and water taxi back
Picked up in Venice by Como Limousines and driven back to Como
Picked up in Como by Como Limousines and driven back to Milan (Malpensa) Airport
Qantas flight (Emirates code share) to Sydney via Dubai