“It’s the way of the future,” says Pietro Rusconi, manager of the Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri, as we relax in the sunny, secluded courtyard of this elegantly reimagined 15th-century Venetian palace.
Rusconi is a third-generation hotelier, with deep connections to the dazzling, opulent hotels that occupy the banks of the Grand Canal in Venice, but he sees a new trend emerging in luxury family travel.
“Today families want to switch off their electronic devices and reconnect with each other while on vacation. Here at the Palazzo Morosini, they’ll find a home away from home complete with everything they need and more,” he says.
A palace born in the past prepares for the future
The Palazzo, located in Venice’s San Polo district, has a rich history. It was first recorded on Jacopo de Barbari’s Venice Map of 1500, when it overlooked a church—since demolished—that stood in the Campiello Sant’Agostin.
From the plant motifs on the bezel above the water gate and carvings of the Rod of Asclepius (minus the snake) above the windows, it appears that the original building was the home of a merchant, called a spezier. At a time when Venice ruled the market, merchants imported medicinal herbs and exotic spices from the Far East to be sold across Europe. In recognition of the original owner, each of the nine apartments in the palazzo is named after a spice or an herb. There’s the Cayenne (where we stayed), Dill, Myrtle and Coriander, among others. Each apartment is as unique as its namesake.
In later years, the palazzo was one of many owned by descendants of Domenico Morosini. In 1204, as a commander in the Fourth Crusade, he brought the four famous horses, the Quadriga Domini, from the Hippodrome in Constantinople to adorn the rooftop of St. Mark’s Basilica. Today they have been replaced by reproductions, and the original horses are on display at the Basilica to protect them from the elements.
The latest restoration
Over the years, the original two-story building was raised and rebuilt several times, changing owners and utility as time went by. The four-year restoration, undertaken in 2012 by the architectural firm Studio Negri and Fauro, unearthed traces of Gothic-era frescos, brickwork and ancient wooden beams.
Many of these elements (including some of the original terrazzo flooring) were retained by the interior designer, Umberto Branchini, to add touches of antiquity to the completely modernized apartments. The newest inspirations in lighting from Italian designers Catellani & Smith hang from ancient beams. Chairs made of structured cellulose, wood fiber, recycled paper and natural glue by Staygreen Venezia pop up throughout the palazzo. They are upholstered in fabric by Rubelli, a firm that has been creating fabrics in Venice since 1889.
Palazzo Morosini offers a taste of Italy
The one, two, and three-bedroom apartments each have a unique colour palette relating to the spices they are named for: The Cayenne, for example, had draperies of rich Venetian red and ruby accent cushions. The units range in size from 40 to 150 square meters. Luxurious oversized Egyptian cotton bed linens are made in Italy by Rivolta Carmignani. Toiletries are by (Malin+Goetz) of New York.
Families will find plenty of room with sofa beds and connecting room configurations. The entire second floor can become a six-bedroom apartment for groups up of up to 32 people. Rollaways and cribs are available upon request.
Guests will enjoy an elevated apartment experience. Many units have outdoor patios, and all have access to the lush green garden overlooking the canal. The state-of-the-art heating and cooling system is driven by the tides of the lagoon, there is in-floor heating in the generously sized, Istrian stone-tiled bath, and fast, free Wi-Fi. Temperature, lighting and music are controlled by a programmable system.
The European-style kitchens are complete with every utensil and appliance (including a dishwasher) that a cook could desire. Additional items, such as highchairs, blenders and cutlery for babies’ meals, are available upon request. The local grocery store is a five-minute walk from the palazzo.
Guests also can order breakfast from the nearby Majer Bakery, have dinner delivered from Taverna da Baffo, or to arrange for a chef to create a unique dining experience in their apartment.
Venice at your feet
When it’s time to explore Venice, the Palazzo Morosini is a ten-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge and seven more minutes by foot to St. Mark’s Square. Hop on a vaporetto for a ride on the Grand Canal or wait until sunset and take the most romantic gondola ride of your life. The choice is yours. Don’t miss the breathtaking Tintoretto paintings in the Scuola Grande de San Rocco and the sculptures in the Basilica dei Frari. Both are just a five- minute walk, over picturesque bridges, from the Palazzo Morosini at the Campo dei Frari.
This is the right time and the Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri is the right place to experience both the rich history of Venice and the future of family travel.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- From the private canal entrance to the secluded garden with its trees and pergolas, the Palazzo Morosini is the very definition of elegance and ease.
- Choose to relax and feel at home in the comfort of your apartment or venture out at any time of the day or night to enjoy the delights of Venice, one of the safest cities in the world.
- Although there is no concierge, the staff provide an outstanding level of support. They can arrange for cabanas on the beach, massages, yoga mats and gym passes upon request.
- Italian rules regarding apartments mean that self-catering is the rule. Towels and sheets are exchanged once each week, however, there is a washer in each apartment and a dryer is available on request.
- Be prepared to carry luggage up one flight of stairs or pay an additional fee to a porter.
- There is no manager on duty during the night, but there is 24/7 e-butler support.
- The entrance to the property is only marked by a discreet brass plate on an ancient green door.
IF YOU GO
- Centrally located in the quiet district of San Polo and tucked up beside the Rio de San Polo canal, the Palazzo Morosini is a pleasant 12-minute walk from the Santa Lucia Railway station or the Piazzale Roma Car Terminal. Porters are available to transfer your luggage.
- The nearest vaporetto stop is San Toma, about a 10-minute walk. If you prefer to arrive by private water taxi, ask your driver to stop at Campiello Sant’Agostin, near Taverna da Baffo. The ride will take around 40 minutes at an approximate cost of 120 Euro.
Disclosure: The author was a guest of the Palazzo Morosini degli Spezieri. As always, her opinions are her own. Follow her on Instagram at where.to.lady
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