Why do you go to Venice? To be romantic, to propose, to get married, to celebrate an anniversary … there are many reasons with a majority of them connected to love. Well a friend and myself decided to be different; we went to run the 25th Venice Marathon!
Yes, Venice has a marathon, although to call it the Venice Marathon is slightly stretching the truth, you only run the final few kilometers actually in Venice, the rest takes place on the mainland through the towns of Stra, Marghera and Mestre.
But still, the attraction of running along the canals, over bridges and then to finish at the center of Riva dei Sette Martiri, on the lagoon overlooking the Lido, was too alluring to miss.
I decided to go out a little ahead of the race to get acclimatized, well, at least, that was my excuse. Even though I have been to the city many times, I wanted to try somewhere different this time. Venice is a city with a number of unique areas to discover, however the majority of the tourists focus on St Mark’s Square and the Rialto area. So I decided to investigate the Giudecca – an island that is just 5 minutes away by boat from the Doge’s Palace.
The Giudecca is perfect for people who want to be able to have quick and easy access to the historical part of Venice, but would to also escape the bustle and enjoy a slower pace. Probably the most famous place to stay on the island is the Hotel Cipriani & Palazzo Vendramin, one of Orient Express’ hotels.
When you arrive at the hotel’s dock on its private launch you are greeted by Roberto, who has one of the biggest smiles in the business. He welcomes you to the hotel like you are one of his oldest friends and without a doubt, helps ensure that all guests feel spoiled from the very first moment!
Hotel Cipriani has many amazing attributes, which is why guests come back year after year. The heated outdoor pool, tennis courts, Cipriani Kid’s club and spa are some of the attractions to name a few. During the Venice film festival, many big-name movie stars flock here to host private parties at night, and also to retreat and recover the next day!
General Manager Giampaolo Ottazzi and the team take care of you and have the privilege; unlike many hotels in Venice whose guest’s only stay for 3 or 4 nights, to get to really know their guests as they are often staying for a week or more.
Nearly every room at the hotel has it’s own unique style and charm, some of them overlook the tranquil gardens, others the pool and finally some of the rooms in the Palazzo Vendramin area have a lagoon/historical center view.
We decided to have dinner at Cip’s, their restaurant overlooking the lagoon – the freshly-made, hot olive bread was fantastic as well as the homemade cannelloni. Cip’s has a very relaxed atmosphere, but if you want something a little more elegant then try their other restaurant, Fortuny. There are other restaurants all over the island that are definitely worth a try, such as Mistral, which is just a few minutes walk from the Cipriani.
I decided to stay closer to finish line for the two nights, as I knew that after the race I would not want to walk far, so I checked into the Hotel Danieli.
I was lucky enough to stay in one of their new Jacques Garcia designed bedrooms. He did a huge amount of work bringing the classical Venetian style that the hotel is famous for, into the 21st Century.
The hotel has partnered up with the Peggy Guggenheim museum’s latest exhibition of Adolph Gottlieb’s work and recreated a dinner menu to reflect his work.
Early Sunday morning off we set from Piazza La Roma to the start of the Marathon – was I nervous? YES. Was I excited? YES. Did I wish I were still cozy in my sumptuous bed? YES!
While my friend and I were traveling to the start, our support crew was supposedly busy strategizing about where was the best place to stand and cheer us on. We later discovered that they decided the ideal place to stand and shout encouragement to us was outside the best ice cream shop in town, Nico’s.
The race is tough and sadly we were not able to run through St Mark’s as it was high tide, but I am delighted to say that my friend and I finished in record time.
We staggered back to the hotel and after a lovely hot bath headed out for a drink on the terrace at the Gritti Palace before dinner at Beccafico, a small Sicilian restaurant in Campo Santo Stefano. Dinner was truly delicious, made to taste even better by the fact that it was all washed down with a lovely glass of wine… the first in 3 months!
High tide continued on the Monday, slightly delaying check-in for our final nights’ stay at the Luna Hotel Baglioni, just behind St Mark’s square and beside the world-famous bar, Harry’s. After having to wade through ankle deep water, we were greeted at the hotel by warm towels and an even warmer welcome.
That night we decided to enjoy the spectacular view from our suite by ordering room service. It was a lovely end to our stay in Venice and aspecial mention must go to the pastry chef at the Luna – the homemade zabaglione was amazing!