Though I have been in contact with the staff at Monastero Santa Rosa for years, it was only this year, during my trip to Matera in the fall, that I finally made it out to visit this property high on the coastal road perched over the Amalfi coast.

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There is no place like Venice. Of all the regions in Italy I can’t wait to get to Venice time and again. I make sure that I visit at least twice a year and try to plan that one of those times during the off season. ( November- Late January before Carnival), the crowds are smaller and you can actually see in the windows of the chic shops as you pass by. My next trip will be February, and I can’t wait.

One of my favorite five star luxury hotels in Venice  are Bauer Il Palazzo If you like being on the Grand Canale, in old world luxury and near the chic shops, then Bauer Il Palazzo is for you. Now do not be confused. The Bauer also has Bauer     L’ Hotel ( which is not my favorite and is attached to street side and feels more commercial and contemporary). But if you are looking for plush, lush, deep burgundy reds, and polished silver, heavy gold corded tassels, then try The Bauer, the right location. For a ultimate villa experience in Venice, the Bauer also owns the Villa F across the canale in sleepy Giudeca.  Villa F can host you and twenty friends in an intimate and eloquent private venue complete with staff and private boat.

Cipriani- The ultimate in refined hospitality and style.  How can one go to Venice and not discuss the iconic family of hotelliers Arrigo Cipriani? Dod you require a swimming pool and grounds? Then Cipriani is for you.   When last there, they had preserved a wing, in 50’s style exactly as it was.......50 years ago. Kitch.   The remainder of the rooms have been renovated.  The property lovely and the service.... well he wrote the book on service not servitude didn’t he?

As far as dining at Harry’s bar... well I would say pass.  If you must go, then go because it is an icon and not for the food.   The decor is great though, the bill was not. I am sure if you were there in 1962 it was "the spot".   Go and drink,  order  a Bellini! But dine with Diane and Cesare  at AL Covo divine and dining.   Better to  reserve ahead.

Back to hotels in the five star category,   though lovely, I have trouble with booking Hotel Daniele or Palazzina Grassi not that I do not like them, they are both wonderful. I was at the opening of Palazzina Grazzi when Philip Stark and entourage were there for the preliminary opening. Had I known I was going,  I would have change clothes.  It is cozy and hip and colorful with wonderful decorate touches  to  enhance the room into an intimate space.   But to stay there, I would not, rooms were small, and it is tucked away though nicely reachable by boat.

THE TOURIST ZONE- The majority of  tourists visit and stay in  the  area between St Marks and Rialto Bridge.  These two areas  are the most crowded,  and do not reflect the true temperment of the city. My advice is to walk and visit Castello,  San Polo and Dorsoduro.   One of my favorite sestiere is Dorsoduro. It is only a 15 minute walk to Piazza San Marco, and begins by crossing  the Accademia bridge.

TRAGHETTI- A piece of Venetian History

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