Most of the city's trattorias have fallen prey to camera-toting hordes, but Dalla Marisa still feels like a discovery. Famished workers and gondoliere gather here for signora Maria's meaty cooking (she's from a family of butchers), like hare with polenta, bollito misto, and risotto laced with morsels of beef. Dinner, $75. At 652B Fondamenta San Giobbe; 39-041/720-211.
—Anya von Bremzen
Where to Go After Midnight
Venice is an early-to-bed town, but in San Marco there's still life during the wee hours. Centrale Restaurant Lounge (dinner, $145; 1659B Piscina Frezzeria; 39-041/296-0664), which recently opened in the neighborhood, serves simple late-night fare, like bean soup and risotto. If it's a drink you're after, head downstairs to the circular bar and lounge at Bacaro (1345 Salizada San Moise; 39-041/296-0687).
At Alaska, his tiny gelateria in Santa Croce, Carlo Pistacchi scoops out the best ice cream in town to a floor-shaking reggae beat. Just as unusual as Alaska's soundtrack is its menu of flavors, such as fennel, red onion, and our favorite, ginger—it's icy and smooth, with a wickedly piquant bite. At 1159 Calle Larga dei Bari; 39-041/715-211.
Archimede Seguso was one of the great Murano glassmakers. His pieces from the fifties, especially the delicate merletto vases (abstract, transparent versions of Burano lace), are fiercely sought out by collectors. Today Seguso's son Gino and grandson Antonio run his vetreria, where they make glassware for Cartier, Tiffany, and heads of state. This is a serious workshop—no showboating glassblowers conducting tours. Antonio doesn't encourage even concierges to send clients. "If they ring," he says, "I say, yes, fine, as long as the people you're sending asked specifically for Archimede Seguso. Otherwise I'm not interested." From $25. At 18 Fondamento Serenella; 39-041/739-048; www.aseguso.com.
The Best Masks for Carnevale
Of the many shops in Venice, our favorite is Casin dei Nobili. At this two-year-old atelier, Valentina Pala and Stefano Oliani create masks using antique molds, and their assortment—by turns fantastical, sublime, even menacing (we love the angelic white masks adorned with horns)—is as divine as the festival it celebrates. $50-$630. At 2766B Dorsoduro; 39-041/1520-2873.
Giuliana Longo's tiny century-old family shop on the main street between the Rialto and the Accademia is a place of pilgrimage for panama-hat fans. London's big-deal chef Marco Pierre White recently ordered five of Longo's wide-brimmed Montecristos, each of which took a year to make (and cost $4,200). Longo also produces authentic straw Venetian gondolier hats ($36), and a few years back, she single-handedly reintroduced the gondolier's winter hat—the black velvet-and-wool basco ($90). Panamas, from $180. At 4813 Calle del Lovo; 39-041/522-6454; www.guilianalongo.com.
"I'm not a sommelier," insists Mauro Lorenzon, the down-to-earth bow-tied proprietor of La Mascareta, the city's best wine bar. "I'm a drinker." Still, Lorenzon's knowledge is as vast as his cellar, which he'll happily walk you through. Just study his list of hundreds of wines by the glass, including rare vintages of Sassicaia and Montevetrano. To complement his selections, Lorenzon also serves an array of Italian cheeses and a few hearty dishes (onion-and-prawn soup is one). Wine tasting and dinner, $110. At 5183 Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa; 39-041/523-0744.
To see where the tradition of Italian handmade paper began (and buy magnificent marbleized stationery), stop by Antica Legatoria Piazzesi, the oldest paper shop in Italy. At 2511 Campiello della Feltrina; 39-041/522-1202; www.legatoriapiazzesi.it.
House of Cards
Halfway down the narrow Calle del Fumo ("Smoke Alley"), inside a dimly lit bottega, Gianni Basso is setting type. Surrounded by the kind of presses you thought went out with Gutenberg, Basso makes exquisite visiting cards and stationery for the likes of Hugh Grant, Scott Turow, and Susan Sontag. Basso has neither fax nor e-mail and doesn't care much for the phone. Go visit him in person at Smoke Alley. From $70 for 100 visiting cards. At 5306 Calle del Fumo.
Pure Whites: David Lynch's Wine List
The Venento, along with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige, makes up one of the three corners of the region known as Tre Venezie. The grape-rich heart of Italy's northeast, it produces some of the finest vini bianchi in the country. Three to look out for:
Soave Classico "La Froscà," Gini Fat and luscious, this Veneto wine cries out for a plate of sautéed softshell crabs.
Tocai Friulano "Vigne Cinquant'anni," Le Vigne di Zamó A silky, exotically aromatic white from Friuli. It's not typically found in the States, so don't miss it here.
Pinot Grigio "Graminé," Longariva From Trentino, another one you won't find at home—deep and pinkish in color.
The overlooked La Scuola Grande di San Rocco houses an impressive collection of paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto. The enormous canvases bring to life Ruskin's observation that Tintoretto "lashes out like a leviathan, and heaven and earth come together." At 3052 Campo San Rocco; 39-041/523-4864.
Soon after the Benetton Group took over the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal in 1992, it acquired another piece of history: the Teatro Ridotto, a glorious 18th-century gambling hall (and one of Casanova's favorites). As much as we like suite 414 in the hotel—Luciano Benetton's Moroccan-inspired penthouse with a view of Elton John's place across the water—we love the Ridotto even more. It has become the place in Venice for a wedding reception or carnevale party. Hotel rates, $200-$625. Teatro Ridotto, $5,425 per event. At 1332 Calle Vallaresso; 39-041/520-0211; www.hotelmonaco.it.
Pizza al Fresco
At Il Refolo, the casual canalside offspring of Da Fiore, the flavors change seasonally: Fall's pizza is topped with radicchio and lardo; the spring pie is smothered in artichokes. It's outside or nothing here, so don't go if it rains. Dinner, $40. Open Apr.-Oct. At 1459 Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio; 39-041/524-0016.
"One of my favorite artisans is Gilberto Penzo. He's a naval archaeologist who builds beautiful miniature gondolas, fishing boats, and vaporetti." At 2681 Calle Seconda dei Saoneri; 39-041/719-372; www.veniceboats.com.
—COUNTESS MARIE BRANDOLINI, GLASSMAKER (www.LAGUNAB.com)
Where to Hear Vivaldi
Ignore all the barkers with their tourist-friendly concert flyers. Head instead to San Vidal, a pretty church in Campo San Stefano, to hear the Interpreti Veneziani, a string ensemble with a long discography and a spectacular way with Vivaldi (this is his hometown, after all). Cellist Davide Amadio steals the nightly show. At 2862B Chiesa di San Vidal; 39-041/277-0561; www.interpretiveneziani.com.
Roger de Montebello (whose mother is a De Polignac and whose uncle Philippe is the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) paints serene Venetian landscapes. Make an appointment to visit his studio, in a Gothic palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal. It is full of quiet studies in oil—of the cemetery island San Giorgio and variations on Punta della Salute—that poetically capture the elusive magic of the city. $ $1,450-$12,000. At 2840 Campo Santo Stefano; 39-348/252-9077; www.rogerdemontebello.com.
Checking In at the Big Three
Hotel Cipriani With the Casanova Spa, the fabulous Cipriani finally gets the pampering it deserves. Each of the four smart pastel-pink treatment rooms has a private garden patio. Treatments, $60-$300. At 10 Guidecca; 39-081/520-7744.
Hotel Bauer Owner Francesca Bortolotto Possati has acquired Palazzo Mocenigo on the Grand Canal (www.livingasavenetian.com), which is rented for weddings and banquets, and Bauer Casa Nova, a suite of apartments opening next spring (www.bauervenezia.com).
Hotel Gritti Palace One of our favorites in Venice, along with the Hotel Danieli, the Gritti has revamped its School of Fine Cooking, offering three-day courses overseen by executive chef Celestino Giacomello. Course, $825 for three days. Hotel rates, $930-$4,825. At 2467 Campo Santa Maria del Giglio; 39-041/94716; www.starwoodeurope.com/gritticookingschool.
At L'Ottico Fabbricatore, Francesco Lincetto sells some of the most divine eyewear this side of the Alps, especially the mod flexible-steel frames fromIC! Berlin, as well as Lincetto's own line of Peggy Guggenheim-esque glasses made of buffalo horn ($500-$615). At 4773 Calle del Teatro; 39-041/522-5263; www.otticofabbricatore.com.
The Veneto by Boat
Sometimes how you see something matters as much as what you see," says Mauro Stoppa, boat captain and founder of Cruising Venice, a charter company that sails the Brenta River and the Venetian lagoon. And there is no better way of seeing the Veneto's islands and palazzi than from Stoppa's two restored boats: the Roberta, a 1930s carolina, and the Eola, a 52-foot Venetian bragozzo, one of the few remaining on the water. Taking between four and 12 people at a time, Stoppa plans the itinerary or lets passengers tailor it as they go. On our trip, a morning at the Palladian villa known as La Malcontenta was followed by lunch at Villa Goetzen, an 18th-century hunting lodge that is now a B&B. The next night Stoppa booked us into the Villa San Giovanni Evangelista, originally part of a 15th-century convent (there are no accommodations on board). Stoppa's network is vast: At many stops, counts and countesses greet you, ready to explain their villa's history over Prosecco. Stoppa also knows the Venetian islands intimately—and the best time to explore them. On tiny Chioggia, we arrived to see the bustling fish market, a reminder of Venice's past. On the island of Torcello, with its leaning Romanesque steeple, we docked after the crowds had gone and were the only travelers around. "There is much more to Venice," Stoppa says, "than most visitors ever see." Rates, $2,600-$6,100; 39-049/807-8032; www.crusingvenice.com.
Two to Try
Childhood friends Danilo Baldan, a Cipriani alum, and Agostino Doria serve traditional dishes with a twist at their homey new restaurant, L'Osteria di Santa Marina. Standouts include shrimp in saor (confit) with a smattering of chopped leeks and ginger, and grilled calamaretti over velvety white polenta. Dinner, $120. At 5911 Campo Santa Marina; 39-041/528-5239; www.osteriadisantamarina.it.
The menu changes daily at Bancogiro-Osteria da Andrea, Andrea Varisco's newly opened 12-table dining room. A recent meal included grouper with artichokes, endive with melted Morlacco cheese and walnuts, and a bottle of Tocai from Friuli. Ask for a table outside by the canal. $ Dinner, $60. At 122 Campo San Giacometto; 39-041/523-2061.
"Our family's favorite restaurant is Gatto Nero, on the island of Burano. Try the calf's liver with special Venetian white polenta." Dinner, $40. At 88 Fondamenta della Giudecca; 39-041/730-120.
—ANGELA MISSONI, DESIGNER
Trattoria Ca d'Oro
The bacaro, the traditional workingman's osteria, is back in vogue in Venice. But our choice remains one of the originals: Trattoria Ca d'Oro (a.k.a. La Vedova). The decor, from hanging copper pans to the worn terrazzo floor, is as authentic as the food—spaghetti alla busara (with anchovy-and-onion sauce), octopus salad, and the house speciality, polpette (breadcrumb-crusted veal meatballs). Like all true bacari, Ca d'Oro serves a traditional meal and a tapas-style feast at the bar. Dinner, $36. At 3912 Calle del Pistor; 39-041/528-5324.
Risotto, Prosecco, and Tuna Crudo
THE CLASSIC Everyone will tell you that Osteria da Fiore (dinner, $160; 2202A Calle del Scaleter; 39-041/721-308) is the friendliest and most consistent restaurant in La Serenissima. They're right. Owner Maurizio Martin welcomes every guest graciously, and his wife Mara's fried moleche (softshell crabs) can't be beat.
WORTH THE WAIT The shrimp risotto is reason enough to fight for a table at the perpetually mobbed Fiaschetteria Toscana (dinner, $125; 5719 Campo San Giovanni Crisostomo; 39-041/528-5281). The terrific staff make the struggle pay off.
TOASTS OF THE TOWN The mammoth wine cellar and irresistible francobolli (tiny sandwiches) have locals crowding around wooden barrels at the weathered Cantina do Mori (drinks, $36; 429 San Polo; 39-041/522-5401), the city's oldest bacaro. At Al Prosecco (drinks, $40; 1503 Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio; 39-041/524-0222), the encyclopedic Prosecco selection is complemented by a bountiful selection of cheese.
SEAFOOD SENSATIONS The minuscule Alle Testiere (dinner, $100; 5081 Calle del Mondo Novo; 39-041/522-7220) looms large on the city's restaurant scene, with creative dishes such as clams with ginger, and shrimp with red pepper and cinnamon. At the new Boccadoro (dinner, $115; 5405A Campiello Widman; 39-041/521-1021), the startlingly fresh scallops, swordfish, and tuna served crudo (raw) will make you forget sashimi.
LA DOLCE VITA After dinner, head to Cip's Club at the Hotel Cipriani (dessert, $41; 10 Guidecca; 39-041/520-7744) for the cippamisù (think tiramisù with attitude). It's all the sweeter for the dazzling view of Piazza San Marco across the lagoon.
Hidden at the back of San Polo (1612-1618 Campo San Polo; 39-041/523-7631) are the magnificent 18th-century "Via Crucis" paintings by Giandomenico Tiepolo (son of Gianbattista). At Santa Maria dei Miracoli (Campo dei Miracoli; 39-041/528-3903) the painted wood ceiling gets all the attention, but the gray, green, and cream marble wall panels are also mesmerizing. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (3072 Campo dei Frari; 39-041/275-0462) is full of works by Donatello, Bellini, and Titian (who's buried here). Equally divine are the 15th-century choir stalls ornately carved with papal portraits and architectural scenes.
A Private Palazzo
Ca' Salvioni, a secluded 16th-century palazzo for rent near San Giorgio degli Schaivoni, could be out of Portrait of a Lady: Murano chandeliers, cherubs frolicking above doorways, stuccowork framing Old Testament scenes done in oil, and a view of the campanile of San Giorgio from the library. The palazzo's master bedroom is done in the same grand style; the other two are more modest. Rates, $7,225-$10,250 per week, including maid service. Book through Bellini Travel in London; 44-20/7437-8918; www.bellinitravel.com.
A Grand Hostess
There are now more B&Bs than hotels in Venice, but few are as charming as Roberta dal Carlo's family home, Palazzo dal Carlo. It's not just the location—on a peaceful canal near the church of San Trovaso—or the delicate 18th-century stucco decoration in the salon and breakfast room, which she restored on her own. It's not even the panoramic roof terrace (tiled in terra-cotta and planted with jasmine) that makes Palazzo dal Carlo so special. The pleasant but modest sleeping quarters are such a joy because of Roberta herself. Friendly but discreet, well connected but entirely without airs, she's our favorite Venetian landlady. Rate, $185, including breakfast. At 1163 Fondamenta Borgo; 39-041/522-6863; www.palazzodalcarlo.com.
Glassblowing in modern-jewelry form is Davide Penso's forte at Artstudio Murano. $12-$560. At 48 Fondamenta Cavour; 39-041/527-4634; www.artstudiomurano.com.
Schedule a night flight and departure via private water taxi. You'll leave from the Grand Canal, then zip to the airport, skimming across the lagoon at speeds not allowed during the day. It's poetry in motion. About $165 with a carrier such as Venezia Taxi; 39-041/0172-3009; www.veneziataxi.it.
What to Order at Harry's Bar
This Cipriani institution may be famous for its Bellinis, but Claudio, the head barman, mixes a wicked whiskey sour. If he's not there, ask for Stefano, the jovial one with the curls. Say you heard he was almost as good as Claudio—it'll inspire him to pull out all the stops. Cocktails, $15. At 1323 Calle Vallaresso; 39-041/528-5777; www.cipriani.com.
Most travelers never see the spectacular Venice gardens hidden behind high walls. But Tudy Sammartini—whose Secret Gardens in Venice is available at most bookshops in town—will show you patches of green you'd otherwise miss, like the one at San Francesco della Vigna and the monks' vegetable gardens at Il Redentore. Rates available upon request; 39-041/528-8146.
"It's worth a trip to tiny Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella for dinner at Groto de Corgnan. Owner Giorgio Soave will hike the countryside for forty-five minutes to track down the finest butter and cheese." Dinner, $50. At 41 Via Cogano; 39-045/773-1372.
—GIULIANO HAZAN, CHEF AND AUTHOR
Born into a family of Venetian antiques merchants, Massimo Micheluzzi was initiated into the world of Murano furnaces by glass artist Laura de Santillana. Today Micheluzzi is a highly collected contemporary glass designer in his own right; his atelier near the Accademia is the place to buy one of his stunning, sinuous vases. $1,200-$4,200. At 1071 Calle della Toletta; 39-041/528-2190.
Palace by the Sea
Hotel Bauer's boutique offspring, Il Palazzo, on the Grand Canal has become an instant classic. Now the hotel has a restaurant that lives up to its stature. At De Pisis, chef Giovanni Ciresa serves stunning sweetbreads and baccalà cooked with chickpeas and polenta. And the view across the canal is postcard Venice. For more of that spectacular vista, book one of the presidential suites on the top floor. They all have two bathrooms and a whirlpool tub, and most have a private terrace. Rates, $500-$5,000. At 1413 San Marco; 39-041/520-7022.
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.