Destination Inspiration: Giudecca, Venice
Just a five-minute ferry ride from Venice, Giudecca is where wheel-heeled Italian families head for their culture fix. Feast in the island’s family-run trattorias, snooze between retro boltholes and drink with the masters of mixology, la dolce vita-style.
06 June, 2022
Located in the Venetian Lagoon, the island of Giudecca is separated from mainland Venice by the Giudecca canal. Translated as "Long Thorn", the destination was once a luxurious retreat for Italy's in-the-know travellers, thanks to its bevvy of palaces and pristine gardens. But in the early-20th century, its factories and shipyards grew in might, making for an unexpected industrial turn. Today, however, the blend of grit and glamour makes for a remarkably beautiful place. Just a short gondola ride from the hustle and bustle of Venice's palazzos, the quieter and slower pace of Giudecca offers a taste of true Venetian living.
Thinking of going in search of la dolce vita this summer? Read on for our inside scoop on where to eat, stay and play in gorgeous Giudecca.
Italy has quite the reputation for its ability to produce brilliant art, with few people on the planet not being familiar with the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Bellini. Get your culture fix by checking out some of the contemporary offerings Giudecca has to offer. Start by popping into the Galleria Michela Rizzo. Tucked away down an unassuming street, the airy space is housed in what was once the island's brewery. Today, it showcases some of the country's freshest talent. To enjoy independent art at its finest, check out the upcoming exhibitions section on the website.
Where to stay?
Bed down at Hotel Giudecca. This intimate, 30-key stay oozes a stylish Italian-chic aesthetic: picture sheer curtains masking sweeping views across the Palada canal, wood-beamed ceilings, ancient columns and a healthy smattering of traditional terrazzo tiles. Long, lazy mornings should start with a freshly pressed orange juice and a bowl of colourful seasonal fruit, both best enjoyed on the private terrace.
Where to go for dinner?
Having been in business since 1889, the time-honoured Trattoria Altanella has passed through four generations of the Stradella family. The menu of classic Venetian dishes is full of secret family recipes. Our favourites include Grandma Irma's gnocchi with cuttlefish ink and Mamma Paola's fillet of John Dory. In good weather, bag a sun-soaked table on the outdoor terrace; otherwise settle for a cosy seat inside, where art-clad walls make for a solid date-night setting.
And for a drink…
A firm local favourite, Bar Da Monica's canalside set-up is as old-school as they come - and we're totally here for it. Inside, dramatic chandeliers hang from wooden beams, while a collection of antique trunks makes for a unique countertop. Outside, a handful of mustard-yellow stalls welcome a laid-back sunset crowd. Truth be told, any design enthusiast would likely sniff at the chaotic aesthetic, but we can't help but think that's what makes the place that little bit more magical. Arrive at 6pm and order a large Aperol spritz and a side plate of hams and cheeses. Kept alive by love, the restaurant doesn't yet have a website: look for the ruby-red awnings and olive-green shutters on Fondamenta Croce and you'll know you're in the right place.
Who to take with you
Venice is one of the world's most popular honeymoon destinations, and while we love a good love story, we also enjoy a long weekend with our gang. The romantic air of the city only adds to the fun of spending days strolling alongside canals and gallery-hopping with friends instead.
When to go
While Giudecca might rank as Venice's largest island in terms of size, its population remains at just 5,000 full-time inhabitants. For that reason, it doesn't exactly have the busiest of calendars. We suggest visiting between June and August. That way, you should get lots of sunshine and if you decide to head to the mainland for an evening, you can catch a gig at the legendary Veneto Jazz Festival.
Essentials to pack
Fed up of finding sand buried in every crevice of your favourite tote bag? Us too. Grab yourself a fit-for-purpose Loewe Paula Ibiza basket bag - the ultimate new summer staple. Did someone say beach day?
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo Airport. Giudecca is just a five-minute ferry ride away from St Mark's Square.