Venice, with its famous canals and air of old-world splendor, is a city that inspires mystery, secrecy and a hint of magic. Historically a center for art, architecture and all manner of artisans, it has inspired locals and visitors for hundreds of years. Essential to its artistic identity is the Venice Biennale. Held every two years since its inception in 1895, the gathering is an expansive art-world celebration featuring artists representing 88 countries with all types of visual, film and site-specific creative projects.
This year’s installment, inspired by artist Marino Auriti’s vision of a utopian museum meant to house all the world’s knowledge, is titled “Il Palazzo Enciclopedico.” Laid out in the armory and shipyards of the Arsenale and Giardini gardens, the festivities run from June 1 through November 24, bringing a unique scene full of style, originality and international identity.
The city itself beyond the Biennale offers a multitude of options to travelers, from small ateliers to tucked-away restaurants to grand palazzos to breathtaking museums. Locals say Venice is a city best explored by wandering, and that is never truer than during its art fair. To offer a bit of direction, here are our ten favorite cultural diversions found outside the gates of the Arsenale. Plan your visit accordingly.