SCENE 1: AN A-LIST ARRIVAL
Fade in. Daytime in Venice. JOHN and JANE SMITH emerge from a CROWD OF TOURISTS at the Venice railway station and walk to the docks where several water taxis are bobbing in the water. A HANDSOME TAN MAN dressed like a vacationing aristocrat approaches them.
HANDSOME TAN MAN Excusing me. You are the acquaintance known as Smiths? (JANE and JOHN nod.) Come with me. The owner of the hotel sends her private boat.
The HANDSOME TAN MAN leads the couple to a beautiful boat of blond wood and polished brass fixtures. The cabin is decorated with pale blue linen curtains. JOHN and JANE make themselves comfortable.
HANDSOME TAN MAN Sorry for being confusion. Signora Bortolotto Possati sent me because there was a strike today. No vaporetti.
JANE stretches out on the soft couch in the boat’s cabin while JOHN stands regally on the deck with his hands clasped behind his back as they plow past palazzi.
JANE If we can’t take a bus, I guess this is fine. John, what’s up with the posture? Are you at a casting for The Talented Mr. Ripley?
JOHN I was thinking Ed Norton in The Italian Job.
JANE I never knew you to have such a romantic notion of yourself. Must be Venice.
JOHN I’m only kidding. I’m cynical, not romantic!
SCENE 2: BLISSFULLY QUIET QUARTERS
Fade in. Interior of the Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa. JOHN and JANE arrive at the hotel, an immense white palazzo on the banks of Giudecca Island. While Giudecca overlooks St. Mark’s Square—the teeming tourist center of Venice—it is a wide canal away and the waterfront is calm and quiet. The hotel is a recently renovated landmark building, and the only way you’d know that it’s not the palace of a strange, reclusive Venetian duke is the small identifying plaque next to the door. JOHN and JANE enter the lobby, which is furnished with warm oriental rugs and heavy wood furniture, displaying an elegant restraint not common among Italian hoteliers. A BELLBOY shows the couple to their room.
JOHN I’m going to order some herbal tea and then take a bubble bath. And please—don’t ever tell anyone I ordered herbal tea and took a bubble bath.
JANE Maybe later we can buy you a cameo brooch. I’m going to explore.
Cut to a montage sequence. Shot of JANE strolling through the beautiful private garden behind the Palladio.
Cut to JOHN reclining in a frothy tub.
Cut to Jane walking through the giant living rooms, which look like something out of a King Arthur movie.
Cut to John sipping tea in the tub with his pinkie finger extended.
Cut to Jane peeking inside one of the hotel’s two-story suites, which have tapestried walls and a wrought-iron balcony.
Cut to John wrapping the neat little soaps, shampoo bottles, and body washes with a towel and stuffing them in his Dopp kit.
END MONTAGE SEQUENCE
SCENE 3: THE BACKSTORY
Fade in to hotel interior. The next day JOHN and JANE are having coffee in the lobby with FRANCESCA BORTOLOTTO POSSATI, the sophisticated blonde owner of the Bauer Palladio as well as the Bauer Hotel, just off Piazza San Marco across the river.
FRANCESCA This building was designed by the world-renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, but it had been abandoned for more than 100 years when we renovated it. The palazzo was built in the 1500s as a convent. Prostitution was a problem then, and the girls were sent here to learn how to sew and cook so they’d have other skills.
JANE Cooking and sewing, huh? You think that would rehabilitate Heidi Fleiss?
Dissolve to hotel exterior. Later that night JOHN and JANE, dressed for their dinner reservation at Cipriani, are waiting for the stunning wooden shuttle boat that ferries guests to the other side of the canal, where the Teatro La Fenice opera house and the Prada stores reside.
JOHN It’s nice here in Giudecca, but one does have to commute to dinner.
JANE (pointing to the shuttle skimming across the water, its running lights aglow) Though if you have to commute, that is the way to do it.
SCENE 4: A CYNIC REFORMED
Fade in to Giudecca. It’s nearly midnight and here, with a lagoon separating the couple from the hoards of tourists, the night feels hushed and haunted.
JOHN (taking JANE into his arms) Let’s dance. To imaginary music.
JANE That’s awfully romantic. I thought you were a cynic.
JOHN Jane, there’s fog. And streetlamps. And lagoons. And also, in case you’ve forgotten, this is a movie. Audiences eat this stuff up.
The Smiths Recommend
After handing off your bags to the bellman at the Bauer Palladio ($640–$1,535; 39-041/520-7022; bauerhotels.com), step outside the hotel entrance, turn left, and head to Giudecca’s main boardwalk, stopping for a traditional Venetian spritz (Aperol, Prosecco, and seltzer) at a local bar. Then stumble over to Harry’s Dolci (39-041/522-4844), part of the Cipriani empire, for dinner on the water punctuated by one of Harry’s famed desserts. You’ll appreciate this evening of peace before launching yourself the next day into the touristic fray along the Grand Canal.
Back at the Palladio, stay in any of the rooms over-looking the water—we particularly love the suite that features second-level sleeping quarters—and book a treatment at the spa, which will open this spring. Take the solar-powered hotel shuttle—a charming wooden vessel piloted by attractive Venetian men with gelled hair—whenever you can, especially near sunset, when you’d be wise to debark at the Bauer Il Palazzo (39-041/240-6894) for a drink alfresco. If, after days of wandering the city’s historic center, you need another meal away from the hubbub, have a plate of squid-ink gnocchi at Trattoria Altanella (39-041/522-7780), hidden on the Giudecca only a short stroll from your bed.