5 Bites of Venice, Italy

Where to dine, imbibe, and indulge in star sightings for this year's Venice Film Festival


It is almost that time again. Italians have slowly made their way back home from their August holidays and some of the world’s most recognizable celebrities are coming with them, everyone descending on Venice for the film festival. From August 31 through September 10, the Venice Lido will host the glitz and glamour of the 68th Venice International Film Festival. World premieres compete against fashion choices for top billing in the media back home, reporting on who did what and who did it better, but to be there is to hob-knob with the likes of George Clooney, Carrey Mulligan, Kate Winslet, and Ryan Gosling.

So for any festival goers looking to rub elbows with the stars, here are five bites of Venice (with top places to stay) to ensure a slew of sightings. Or you can just follow the camera flashes.

Coffee:  Breakfast in Italy is often just a quick stop to a local coffee bar for an espresso and a paste. And while the Grancaffè Quadri is situated in Piazza San Marco, stopping by for a coffee here is to have the opportunity to luxuriate and people watch as all the boats pull up to the main square and Keira Knightley disembarks. It is a gilded and storied spot offering freshly baked pastries in the morning and a gorgeous al fresco setting.

Lunch: Cantinone Storico is one of those places that shows the magic of Venice. On a quiet canal between the Accademia Bridge and the Guggenheim Museum, the restaurant has a bustling outdoor seating area where locals are invited to stay awhile. Tucking into freshly made gnocchi, tagliatelle with asparagus and shrimp, and delicate tuna carpaccio, you’ll hear the church bells in the distance and sincerely hope that Venice isn’t actually going to sink.

Dinner: As a traveler, finding those tiny hidden gems can prove to be a most difficult and rewarding process. Alle Testiere is that place. Nine tables sit in their black and white space offer diners the chance to sample from their daily changing food and wine menus. The food depends on the day’s freshest catch — think raw fish of the day, spaghetti with shellfish, and grilled market fish. The wine changes monthly and highlights the best in local vintages. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/seventyoneplace)

Drinks: As you lock eyes with that star or starlet from across the Lido, you’ll want to have the perfect place in mind to suggest for drinks. We’ll give you two. For the Philippe Starck-loving crowd, head to PG at the Palazzina Grassi. A true hotspot, the hotel was once a 16th century palazzo. A Champagne flute looks very good on imbibers here. For more of a local feel, head to Al Marca for a casual aperitivo. It’s right near the fish market and is constantly buzzing with locals — whether they’re coming off a wine-soaked lunch or are just starting their evening.  

Market: A fully sensorial experience, Rialto Mercato is the daily market in Venice that houses the famous fish market and is always overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables. To stroll through the market early in the day is to see and smell the ingredients you’ll likely enjoy in your lunches and dinners afterward. Stop to buy a small package of fresh apricots or strawberries to enjoy as you sit along the canals in the afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Lauren J Brown)

Where to stay: For a more quaint and charming getaway, book at Oltre Il Giardino. For a sleeker luxury, you’ll want a room at The Londra Palace and to really ensure some star spotting, go with the iconic Hotel Cipriani


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