San Samuele, Venice
Written by Ayesha Khan Illustration by Marion Vitus
Arrigo’s favourite neighbourhood of his native Venice is San Samuele, a small area bordered by Campo Santo Stefano to the south, the Grand Canal on the west, beautiful palazzi that look onto the Grand Canal to the north, and a street called Piscina to the east.
“For 19 years this was my entire world,” Cipriani recalls. “My school was round the corner and there was plenty of space to play with my mates. Venice is a town for children. They can play on the streets without worrying about being run over by motor cars. They could eventually fall into a canal, but there is no child in Venice who cannot swim from the age of three,” he quips.
Starting with his favourite bar (aside from Harry’s Bar, of course), Cipriani points out a small osteria at the end of Calle delle Botteghe named Bacareto. This, he says is the best place to eat like the locals, with the locals, and enjoy a perfect glass of wine with Cicheti, Venetian tapas. But what Cipriani loves most about San Samuele is that it’s a haven for the finest local artists and galleries.
Right next to Bacareto is a small shop named La Salizada, where you will find a collection of photos of Venice taken in the 1800s by Alinari. Arrigo enjoys Galleria Forme d’Arte on San Marco, and the nearby Holly Snapp Gallery, owned by figurative painter Geoffrey Humphries’ wife, who is a talented artist in her own right. The Palazzo Grassi Museum of Modern Art is located along the Grand Canal to the west, and is one of the most impressive collections of art in this inspiring city of art.
Leaving aside the ubiquitous Italian luxury brands, Cipriani’s picks for local shopping offer artisanal Venetian items that can’t be found anywhere else. “Along the two streets which take you to the centre of San Samuele from the Grand Canal there are a number of beautiful artisan shops and small art galleries. If the word ‘artisan’ is a combination of art and skill, San Samuele is the centre of the two. Nobody should miss this part of town, an incredible combination of arts and crafts,” Cipriani says. He points out parfumeur Santa Maria Novella on Salizada San Samuele, and we marvel at the handiwork of gilders and jewellers such as Stefano Zanin and Antonia Miletto. The atelier of Daniel and Gabriella Stevens is a brilliant show of Venetian glasswork and jewellery, and the contemporary interior design showroom of Guadagni offers a stark contrast to the traditional antiques and artefacts found in San Samuele. There are countless other antique shops, artisans, and ateliers in the neighbourhood, so a meandering walk will be sure to satisfy your inner collector.
Finally, as the rays of the sunset glint on the waters of the Grand Canal, Cipriani points out the perfect place to stay. It is a cosy little hotel around the corner from San Samuele called Palazzina Grassi. In keeping with the highly artistic theme of its neighbourhood, it is designed by Philippe Starck, and features the finest works of Murano glass and pieces from renowned artist Aristide Najean. (It was also the Venetian home of Johnny Depp while he was filming The Tourist.)
The son of Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice, Arrigo Cipriani is now the patriarch of a family business that spans the globe from Venice to Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, and Los Angeles. His father conceived Carpaccio and the Bellini, but Arrigo has made a career out of refining Italian hospitality.