Secret Venice: 15 tips by author L.S. Hilton

With about 30 million visitors a year, does the city of Venice have any secrets left? The answer is yes! Author L.S. Hilton completely immersed herself in the city for the writing of her book ‘Domina‘. Here are her 15 favorite out-of-the-box spots. 

She’s stylish, she’s British, she writes killer fiction ànd  I was lucky enough to meet her for an interview in Venice… Lisa Hilton lived in the city for 3 years, she led me around and shared a few of her secrets.

  • Don’t have much time to visit the city? Get the vaporetto number 1 from San Marco to the Station. You’ll see it all. It’s an ideal tour if you didn’t have much time… or money.
  • My favorite hotel is also my favorite place to have a drink: The Gritti Palace. On the terrace of Bar Longhi you are treated with the most beautiful view in the world, looking over the Grand Canal. The drink you should have after dinner, or just any time late at night, is a Grasshopper or a Brandy Alexander. Just excellent!
  • My go-to restaurant is Pane Vino e San Daniele. It’s authentic, not too expensive and just outside of the centre. They make the most amazing duck tagliatelle with pumpkin here.
  • If you’d rather go somewhere really grand, go to Venissa, a lovely refined and contemporary restaurant.
  • When in Venice, remember to look up once and a while when you’re inside a church, convent or palace. One of my favorite things to do is visit the old convent of Santa Maria dei Carmine, in Campo Santa Margherita (Dorsoduro). Lie on the floor – on your back obviously – and look up at the frescoes.
  • When in Italy, you just can’t forget about ice-cream… Go to Gelateria Nico and try the delicious and one of a kind chestnut ice cream! It’ in Fondamenta Zattere al Ponte Longo, 922.
  • Go to the Gallerie dell’Accademia to see Bellini’s paintings. Why? Because you can’t understand Venice without Bellini – the painter, not the drink 😉 Giovanni Bellini is considered the father of the Venetian Renaissance. His unparalleled rendering of color and light; it’s magic.
  • My favorite neighbourhood? San Basegio in Dorsoduro. It’s a formely working class area, but now it’s got some interesting bars and squares.
  • There aren’t many gardens in Venice so if you want some piece and quiet, take the Vaparetto to San Giorgio and visit the Monasterio di San Giorgio Maggiore. The cloistered garden is a wonderful place to just sit and read. A pretty special place in Venice.
  • A – very – early morning visit to the Realto fish market is essential. You can watch the fishermen arrive and see the Venetians buy their weird fish, it’s fantastic.
  • I love the Guggenheim for the views over the Grand Canal and the fantastic modern collection. For a more off the beaten track art stop, I would also recommend seeing a show at the Palazzo Fortuny, a wonderful restored home.
  • Get some amazing linen towels, napkins and nightgowns in Venice for a bargain price. Much more interesting than getting a pair of designer shoes… My favorite shopping area is Fondamenta della Toletta with lovely vintage linen shops.
  • For an authentic Venetian experience, go to the Giudecca waterfront and walk from the one end all the way to the other. Around number 448 is where the local communist party resides, have a drink – the traditional Venetian spritz – next door at the Palanca Communist Party bar.
  • Take a gondola at night through the Cannaregio Canal. Tip: tell the gondolier not to sing. You can hear the sound of Venice the way it used to be before motors were invented, the way Byron knew it! Listen to the water splashing and focus on the architecture. Oh, and take a bottle of Prosecco with you…