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Art of Design: Design Destination - Venetian Winter Getaway

Joseph Pubillones on

Venice in the winter can be brutal. Cold and rainy on top of that wind, some would say you'd be out of your mind to travel there during the winter months. Despite all these inconveniences, Venice offers the unique opportunity to explore the city like a Venetian, sans the hordes of summer tourists and oppressing humid heat.

During this time of the year, a thick blanket of fog covers most of Venice's Piazza San Marco and surrounding narrow streets, and they are bracing for "Aqua Alta" so 18" high platforms are in place so you can walk above the rising tides, should they rise. You peek through the cafe curtains of the classic Cafe Florian and you enter into the heart and soul of 18th century Venice. Painted boiserie panels and liveried servers pouring piping pots of hot chocolate. For those lucky enough to visit during Carnavale (second half of February), promenading costumed Venetians add to the mystery of Venice.

A small vaporetto ride from the train station is the stop for Academia. A first stop at the Ca' Pisani to drop off bags; Ca' Pisani is a small design hotel in a restored 14th century Venetian palazzo. The architectural elements such as windows and doorways have remained untouched, but the interiors show a strong Art Deco influence with original furniture from the 1930s, evoking this strong period in Venice's design evolution. The Hotel houses some of the artwork of one of the key figures of the Italian Futurist movement, Fortunato Depero (1892-1960). Sketches of furniture that still exist inside the hotel adorn the walls. Gouaches by Ugo Sissa, an artist that was long active in Venice, as well as artwork by other 20th century painters can be seen throughout the lobby, corridors and stairwells. Well thought out details like the handrails and sparkling bathroom designs make this property unique.

A short walk from the hotel is the Peggy Guggenheim collection. Here you can find Ms. Guggenheim's personal and passionate collection of art from international artists from the 1950s and 1960s. Picassos to Marinis are mostly in their original locations, as Peggy Guggenheim curated for her one-storied villa; a unique view into the life of an extraordinary and revolutionary collector.

The latest must see in Venice is Fondaco dei Tedeschi. First constructed in 1228, and reconstructed in 1506 and located at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi is one of Venice's largest and most recognizable buildings. This iconic building has undergone a renovation from 2009-2016 by star architect Rem Koolhaus. The Fondaco has a rich past, having once been used as a trading post for German merchants, a customs house under Napoleon, and a post office under Mussolini. Immortalized by Canaletto in his paintings, the Fondaco is now an uber-groovy department store and eatery. Each floor now houses a dozen different boutiques from Fendi to Ferragamo and on the upper floors an exhibition space and roof top terrace with unparalleled views of the heart of Venice. This is quite surely destined to become "the" destination visit when in Venice.


Bliss for all the senses. A nightcap of Jazz at the Bauer added to this unique visit. Their roster of artists is ever-changing. Located within the lobby of the Bauer Hotel, which a friend appropriately described as a Gio Ponti-esque set for La Dolce Vita. High-style in an eclectic mix of 1940s vintage glam dotted with Murano glass chandeliers and sconces, larger than life Black-a-moors and mile-long napa leather couches in dove gray. Don't forget to scope out the chic Assouline design bookstore in the lobby.


Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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