Palazzos, or palazzi as they are known in Italian, abound in the Venice area. The very presence of these palaces speaks to the wealth that was generated in this part of Europe over the centuries. And, while you can visit some of the Venice palazzos and maybe even enter for a look around, you might opt to take things even further and stay at a Venice palace that is now a hotel. Such palace hotels include the Palazzo Abadessa, the Hotel Saturnia, the Hotel Metropole, the Hotel Flora, and the Hotel Gabrielli. Below, we go into further depth about some of the most famous palazzos in Venice Italy and other palace hotels to give you an idea about their places in history and their modern-day roles.
Palazzo Ducale Venice
Palazzo Ducale Venice
None of the Venice palazzos is more renowned than the Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace. A major symbol of the city, this former residence of the doges who ruled over Venice is delightfully set between the sea and the stunning Basilica di San Marco. Work on the current building began in 1340, and as is common among many of Europe’s most notable edifices, it was subsequently extended and redesigned on more than one occasion. In 1923, the Palazzo Ducale Venice was opened as a museum, and it continues in that role today. Among the highlights inside the palace is the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Great Council Hall), which is decorated with a huge painting by the Italian master, Tintoretto. The public entrance at the Doge’s Palace in Venice is through the Porta del Frumento, which is situated under the waterfront façade. We recommend the Secret Itineraries tour, which must be booked in advance, or the infrared audioguide tour. As a side note, the famous Bridge of Sighs links the Palazzo Ducale to the Palazzo delle Prigioni (Prison) and is also worth a look.
Palazzo Grassi Venice
Set on the banks of the Grand Canal near the San Samuele church is the Palazzo Grassi, also known as the Palazzo Grassi-Stucky. Built in the latter half of the 1700s, this Giorgio Massari-designed structure was the last great house to be built on the Grand Canal. It is a fine example of the Venetian Classical style and counts a formal white marble façade among its charms. After the Grassi family sold this palace in 1840, there were various individuals who served as its owners. The palace was eventually sold to the Fiat Group in 1983 and underwent a complete restoration. The aim of the Fiat Group was to convert the Palazzo Grassi into a visual arts exhibition hall. The palace maintained this role until 2006, when it was purchased by the French entrepreneur, François Pinault. Pinault’s son, Francois-Henri, met actress Salma Hayek at the palace, and the couple renewed their wedding vows there. These days, the Palazzo Grassi is essentially an art museum, with exhibits that often showcase the palace owner’s personal collection.
Hotel Palazzo Stern
Hotel Palazzo Stern Image: GOC53 (flickr)
Travelers who are interested in staying at one of the palazzos in Venice Italy will do well to consider the Hotel Palazzo Stern. Arguably one of the very best hotels in Venice, the Palazzo Stern is just a short stroll from Saint Mark’s Square and from the Gallerie dell'Accademia, so the location is certainly something to find favor with. Only adding to the allure of this hotel is the quality of its 24 rooms and suites, which are aptly decorated according to the rules of Venetian style and tradition. All rooms come with modern amenities, such as satellite TV and air conditioning, and you can opt for a jetted tub or shower (both in some rooms). Most of the rooms face the Grand Canal. Hotel Palazzo Stern’s general guest facilities include a terrace garden area on the ground floor and a rooftop terrace with a hot tub.
Proximity to the Rialto Bridge and a central waterfront location on the Grand Canal are two of the things that the Palazzo Lion Morosini has to offer. Accommodations are another. The rooms aren’t exactly upscale, but offer more than enough in the way of comfort and amenities for those who aren’t holding out for four or five star luxury. Standard amenities include Wi-Fi internet access, a safety deposit box, a flat screen TV, heating, air conditioning, a fan, a hair dryer, bath products, and baby cots (upon request). Breakfast is included in the rates and can help you keep up your morning energy for tours around town.
Palazzo Balbi Image: brianandjaclyn (flickr)
Make your way along the Grand Canal, and you will eventually pass the Palazzo Balbi, which calls the Dorsoduro area home. Like the other Venice palazzos, this former residence for the elite is a beautiful slice of Venetian architecture. It exhibits renaissance and baroque influences and is embellished with a symmetrical façade. The Palazzo Balbi dates back to the 1500s and was originally the residence of the Balbi family. Set between the windows on the first floor is the coat of arms of this former Venetian patrician family. The designer of the Palazzo Balbi was Alessandro Vittoria, who made a name for himself as one of the main purveyors of the Venetian classical style. The palace became a property of the Veneto region in 1971 and is today the seat of the regional president and the regional council.