We’ve covered several U.S. cities in our roundups, but this summer, our attention was drawn irresistibly abroad to the world’s oldest film festival. It takes place every year as part of La Biennale di Venezia, a months-long celebration featuring cinema, dance, music, and theatre, as well as either art or architecture (in alternate years).

The film festival portion of the Biennale premieres many American films each year. This year was no different – beginning with a screening of Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, based on Don DeLillo’s novel about a jaded Midwestern college professor. Also on the program were Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel about Marilyn Monroe, and Laura Poitras’ All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, based on the life of photographer/activist Nan Goldin.

Prestigiously, Poitras’ film won top prize, The Golden Lion, from an international competition jury led by Julianne Moore. It is only the second documentary to win The Golden Lion in the festival’s 79-year history.

While cinema lovers were converging on Venice, we curated a list of local attractions, beginning with the Biennale itself. Unless you visit in February, you can’t revel at Carnevale, but you can enjoy amazing museums, restaurants, and more almost any time of year. Read on to learn what to do when visiting this magical city.

La Biennale

Promoting cross-cultural appreciation for the arts, Venice’s Biennale began in 1895 with an International Art Exhibit. It then grew by stages into the epic series that exists today. Since film was added to the program in 1932, audiences have gathered at the Lido – the long, skinny island on the lagoon’s edge – to watch premieres of arthouse productions from around the world. Typically, American filmmakers feature prominently among contenders for The Golden Lion, as they did once again in the summer of 2022. The fact comes as no surprise – after all, the U.S. generates $17.3 billion per year from film and television exports, resulting in an annual trade surplus of $9.6 billion.

Piazza San Marco

While traveling to the Biennale or looking westward from the Lido, you will almost certainly notice the Piazza San Marco, Venice’s central square. It’s capped by a massive edifice, St. Mark’s Basilica, but it also has a small appendage, the Piazzetta, which translates beautifully into English as dear little square-ling. You have probably already thought of touring the magnificent church – but not of retracing Casanova’s footsteps. Just don’t get yourself thrown in the dungeon at the Doge’s Palace, like that incorrigible rascal did. 

Caffè Florian

When strolling the square, visitors shouldn’t miss the opportunity to stop by Caffè Florian, which vaulted to fame after becoming Europe’s first café in 1720. Among the Caffè’s notable guests, none has graced it so magnanimously as Claude Monet, who let a pigeon roost on his inspired head. We’re sure it tweeted #blessed. If the weather smiles on your visit, outdoor seating provides an excellent vantage for people watching. In the event of acqua alta – Venice’s periodic flooding – coffee, tea, or champagne may be enjoyed in luxuriously appointed rooms like The Hall of the Senate, where the Biennale was conceived.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Like New York, Venice has a Guggenheim, and it’s replete with treasures. For instance, there’s Pablo Picasso’s The Poet, Georges Braques’ The Clarinet, and Vasily Kandinsky’s Upward. Their paintings, as you may recall, number among CreativeFuture’s favorites. We’re also captivated by Leonora Carrington’s weird yet visionary Oink (They Shall Behold Thine Eyes). Since the Venice Guggenheim is right on the Grand Canal, there’s no excuse for failing to visit – just take a vaporetto! In case you’re still shopping for an Italian-English dictionary, that’s a boat larger, faster, and more economical than a gondola, but also less romantic.

Al Covo

When ready for fine dining, you simply must experience Ristorante al Covo, located less than a ten-minute walk east from St. Mark’s Square. Established in 1987, it’s owned by Cesare and Diane Benelli. The chefs are Paolo Semeraro and Signore Benelli himself. Sourcing ingredients locally, the restaurant proudly participates in the Slow Food movement. If you scan the QR code from the website, you can start planning your meal today!

Rubelli Showroom

At the showroom of this 125-year-old family-owned business, you can marvel at beautifully crafted textiles that can be “almost indistinguishable from contemporary art,” according to Christie’s. You have already seen Rubelli materials if you followed the Harry Potter films or the Game of Thrones television series. Likewise, Rubelli supplied fabrics for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, which won an Oscar® for its costumes. If your Venetian itinerary includes an opera at Teatro La Fenice, you will have another reason to appreciate the Rubellis – they helped reupholster the seats after a devastating fire in 1996.

Museo Ebraico

The Jewish Museum (est. 1953) educates visitors about a troubling history while also celebrating contributions of a vital community. Venice created Europe’s first Jewish ghetto in 1516. It was the only neighborhood where Jews could live until 1797. Although the museum’s permanent exhibits are closed for renovations, you can still tour one of several beautiful synagogues, peruse volumes at the temporarily relocated Alef Bookshop, and walk the Jewish cemetery, which dates to 1386. Remember, though, that some venues may be closed for Jewish holidays or the Sabbath – Saturday!

Murano Glass Museum

Besides the Lido, there’s another outlying locale that we heartily recommend. It’s an island cluster called Murano, famous for its glass factories. Open daily from 10 am until 6 pm, the official museum has an amazing collection – including a Renaissance cake stand, an eighteenth-century miniature garden, and a twentieth-century vase by Vittorio Zecchin. The Glass of Venice blog offers pro tips for visiting the furnaces themselves. Most importantly, don’t try to go during the hot month of August, when Venetians leave town for vacation anyway.

That’s our Venice arts roundup! We hope you can attend the Biennale one day. If not, though, there are plenty of amazing cultural experiences throughout the Venetian lagoon.

We’ll return to featuring American places in future roundups. Don’t be surprised, though, if a special occasion interrupts our national focus once again.

Until next time, find some creativity wherever you can. Stay safe, and be well. #StandCreative