Style, well-being, and refined taste just a step away from bustling Piazza San Marco. In a 13th-century dwelling transformed by Patricia Urquiola, magnificent artworks and luxurious furnishings coexist harmoniously with a gourmet dining experience waiting to be explored.
Located a mere 5-minute walk from Piazza San Marco and a half-hour vaporetto ride from Venice Santa Lucia station, Ca’ di Dio Hotel, part of the VRetreats collection, offers an ideal retreat for those seeking relaxation. It provides an exclusive view of the lagoon, far from the crowds and well-trodden tourist paths. At the same time, it's strategically positioned for access to these attractions and the prestigious Biennale, a global showcase of art and architecture.
The project behind Ca’ di Dio, entirely overseen by renowned Spanish designer and architect Patricia Urquiola, aims to celebrate the historic dwelling's origins dating back to 1272. Rather than altering its structure, the goal was to connect it firmly to the surrounding territory. The result is an original concept that beautifully encapsulates Venice's dual identity: the austerity of its original structure concealed behind an unmarked exterior, and the contemporary reinterpretation of the city's refinement, expressed through colors, finishes, and carefully chosen, exclusive objects and details.
Even the materials used convey a Venetian essence, from glass to wood, wrought iron to marble, are all sourced from local artisanal businesses, with the aim of creating a virtuous system: an interplay of subtle and understated hues, never overly flashy, in keeping with the tranquility, refinement, and elegance that are meant to be the hotel's distinctive features, clearly perceived as soon as you cross the threshold.
In the living room, a sail-shaped chandelier, crafted from around 14,000 Murano glass crystals, takes center stage, alongside the majestic 18th-century altarpiece "Vergine con bambino e il Doge San Pietro Orseolo" by Giuseppe Angeli. Adjoining to the living room is a reading room, offering a more intimate and private ambiance. The hotel can also be reached by motorboat through its "water entrance," fitting for a Venetian residence. It boasts 66 rooms, including 57 suites and 9 deluxe rooms, some with views of the San Marco Basin and others overlooking the tranquil inner courtyards, another rarity in Venice, all meticulously preserved to retain their historical value.
The hotel's main attraction is the Alchemia Bar, led by expert bar manager Marco Vecchiato, serving high-quality cocktails, both classic and signature creations, made with exclusive spirits produced for the residence, as well as medicinal herbs and fragrances from an on-site garden. One such signature cocktail is the "Scalzi," made with white rum, pineapple juice, ginger, lime, and angostura, perfectly balanced and aromatic, thanks to the use of herbs. Guests can enjoy this with home made caper and olive or ginger and tomato savory biscuits, along with handmade chips and impeccable, attentive service.
The residence also features spaces dedicated to physical and mental well-being, including Pura Spa and Wellness, where guests can indulge in sauna, Turkish bath, and exclusive, tailor-made treatments. "We combine the charm and intimate atmosphere of Venice with a strong commitment to sustainability, making every guest feel at home while choosing a responsible path towards the environment and our future," says Christophe Mercier, the hotel's director, referring to their investments in reducing environmental impact.
For instance, they use lagoon water, which is purified and returned, to produce thermal vector fluids, necessary for heating and equipped the structure with an air heat recovery system. Other initiatives include using sea debris to make staff shoes and collaborating with the Le Malefatte association, aiming to reintegrate prisoners into society by commissioning the production of t-shirts, notebooks, and agendas from leftover wallpaper, all in an effort to reduce waste.
The On-Site Restaurant, Vero Venetian Roots
In such an elegant and refined environment, the Vero Venetian Roots restaurant dining area certainly doesn't fade into the background. Situated next to the main courtyard, it captivates with its textile ceiling designed by Patricia Urquiola, inspired by Venetian culinary traditions, featuring fish, vegetables, and flowers. The minimal yet sophisticated decor draws inspiration from Venice, with wooden tables reminiscent of boats and mouth-blown glasses, all contributing to an authentic atmosphere.
A warm, elegant, and intimate setting, beautifully lit, with a charming outdoor area overlooking the lagoon, offering breathtaking sunsets. The chef, Raimondo Squeo, a native of Puglia, born in 1984, presents a cuisine that pays homage to the past and traditions. Everything, from pasta to leavened goods to desserts, is made by hand, emphasizing locally sourced, carefully selected ingredients.
An offering that reveals a distinctly Mediterranean spirit, whether due to the chef's origins or a natural inclination toward diverse tastes and flavors. This leads to an Italian cuisine that is much broader than just Venetian in the strictest sense, highly attuned to the changing seasons and the world of vegetation, always in the forefront.
The common thread is the connection between land and sea: "We mustn't forget where we are, which is why there’s always a connection to both in my dishes," confirms the chef. This connection is evident from the start, with an appetizer featuring fried eel with samphire and red turnip. The menu offers four options for each course, along with vegan and gluten-free choices, as well as a tasting menu at 130 euros, with the option to add a wine pairing for 90 euros or a cocktail pairing in collaboration with Alchemia, the in-house cocktail bar. Environmental and pollution concerns also extend to the gastronomic aspect, with a focus on avoiding plastic usage, reducing carbon emissions, and selecting products meeting specific criteria certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), an international organization promoting sustainability and social responsibility in tourism.
The culinary experience
The cuisine emphasizes taste and texture, minimizing waste and blending technique and culture to create enjoyable dishes. For example, the "squid stuffed with herbs, with Amatriciana sauce and samphire." showcases the excellent texture of the mollusk, elevated by the chef's own herb garden.
The transition from the sea to land is seen in the "Seared duck breast, charred peppers, marinated purple cabbage" where only female ducks are used for their superior flavor and tenderness, perfectly cooked and complemented by the accompanying vegetables.
The "Risotto with friggitelli peppers seasoned with oregano, smoked buffalo provola, and sun-dried tomato pesto" features Presidium Slow Food Grumolo delle Abbadesse rice, well-suited for a Mediterranean-inspired dish balanced and flavorful, paired with Venusa bianco from the Venissa estate, a slightly macerated wine made from Dorona grapes, a native variety that was on the verge of extinction before a fortunate recovery project.
Next up, the "Square black spaghetti Torchio style, with cuttlefish sauce, and escarole with anchovy oil" are home made, rougher and more porous than their industrial counterparts, making them perfect for soaking up the generously portioned sauce and flavors. This dish owes its triumph of tastes to the slow-cooked cuttlefish ink and the bold flavors of escarole, reinforced by anchovy oil.
Moving on to more refined notes, the "Maccheroncini with Jerusalem artichoke cream, tuna bottarga, and caviar" are all house-made and pleasantly surprising with their delicate flavors, beautifully balanced despite the savory ingredients. Among the memorable mains are the "Seared scallops, white and red turnips, salsify, sweet garlic cream, and parsley." The masterful preparation of the scallops, accompanied by significant vegetal components and sweet garlic cream, creates a pleasantly rounded flavor profile.
For the pre-dessert, savor a pineapple sorbet where the fruit is macerated with sugar for an extended period to achieve a more intense flavor. To enhance this delightful creation, a touch of champagne is added in honor of Christophe Mercier, the General Manager of the establishment and the inspiration behind some of the chef's creations. Raimondo Squeo says, "I particularly enjoy making sorbets and ice creams as they allow me to create flavors tied to my childhood and my parents."
The wine list presents a wide and diverse selection of wines, including sparkling, white, and red varieties, encompassing both Italian and French options. It places significant emphasis on the region's wine culture, rooted in the production of wine. Consider that in the 1100s, there was a vineyard in Piazza San Marco, and the earliest traces of viticulture date back over 2,500 years, especially in the productions of Mazzorbo and Sant'Erasmo islands. The Food & Beverage Manager of the establishment, Samuel Baston, describes it as more of a "collection rather than a wine list", overseeing an exceptionally polite and skilled team, with professionalism as their hallmark.
Hotel Ca' di Dio - Vero Venetian Roots