Venice's Very Best:
The Hotel Danieli
Laura Elizabeth Frommer and
Ian David Frommer
several months had passed since our wedding, we were still in a honeymoon
state of mind when we traveled to Bologna for an academic conference. It was May, springtime in Italy, romance in the air. Which
might explain why, although it was entirely out of character for both of
us, we acted on impulse, hopped on the train and in less than two hours
found ourselves in one of the most romantic cities in the world.
view from the Hotel Danieli capturing St. Marks Square and the Grand Canal
away from St. Mark's Square, Venice's Hotel Danieli seemed the destination
most likely to suit our mood. Built in the Venetian gothic style, the red
palace with white turrets and balconies framed in pointed arches looks out
onto the Grand Canal. At night gondolas passed beneath our window, the
boatmen singing songs that could only be of love.
Danieli speaks of romance and mystery. It is actually three connected
buildings that contain in total 230 rooms. At its heart is the Dandolo
Palace, built at the end of 14th century by the Dandolo family,
descendents of Venice's first doge, Enrico Dandolo, who conquered
Constantinople and brought back to Venice some of its greatest
artistic treasures. After the republic's demise in the 1790s, the
palace was divided into various spaces.
|An enterprising Venetian, Giuseppe Dal Niel,
rented one of the floors as luxury guest quarters in 1822 and gradually
went on to acquire the entire palace transforming it into a grand hotel.
Following the French fashion, he chose the name "Royale" for his
property, but it was his name that stuck, Dal Niel, or the easier to
pronounce nickname, Danieli.
its early days, the Hotel Danieli attracted tourists, nobles, businessmen,
artists and intellectuals on the order of Goethe, Wagner, Dickens, and
George Sand during their Venetian stop on the "grand tour" of
Italy. In more recent times the guest list has included such as Leonard
Bernstein, Harrison Ford, and Steven Spielberg.
1906 the hotel was enlarged by the annexation of the adjacent 19th century
palace now named Casa Nuova, and in 1948, the final piece of the
triumvirate, the palace Danielino was built completing the complex.
The atrium within the Dandolo
inside you don't notice the difference," Francesca Forni, the hotel's
public relations manager explained. "The Hotel Danieli is one hotel
and there is no difference in quality among the three buildings." She
escorted us into the hotel's entry, a multi-storied atrium of the Dandolo
Palace with its gleaming terrazzo veneziano - a floor composed of stucco
and pieces of marble that is unique to Venice. We
were also struck by the golden staircase which winds up before soaring
gothic arches and paintings in the style of Caravaggio to a glass roof. We
wandered through opulent public rooms of stunning beauty with Murano
chandeliers, marble floors and pillars, frescoed ceilings, couches
upholstered in the finest silks and damasks, and precious antiques.
Francesca was right. The hotel was one continuum. We could not tell where
one building ended and the other began.
the Dandolo Palace, Francesca told us, all rooms have at least one piece
of antique furniture. "Our most impressive rooms are the four
historical suites on the two sides of the first and second floor,"
she said showing us the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Doge Suite and pointing
out the bedroom ceiling with frescoes by the eighteenth century artist
palatial Doge Suite overwhelms with its grandeur. Still, being of a more
of a romantic turn of mind, we were smitten by Room 10 in the Casa Nuova,
witness to the famous love affair of George Sand and Alfred De Musset
between 1833 and 1834. "This is one of our most popular rooms,"
Francesca said, "especially with the French."
||Yet we were perfectly content with our room in
the Danielino, all done up in pastels of pale pink, blue and
yellow with 18th century-style Venetian furnishings.
above the door of room 10 commemorating its famous guests
wraparound rooftop terrace restaurant atop the hotel overlooks the
Basilica de San Marco, the island of San Giorgio, the Giudecca, the end of
the Canal Grande, the Church of Santa Maria della Salute, as far as the
Lido and the Adriatic Sea on one side and the Dolomite Mountains on the
other. How extraordinary it was to see the mountains and the sea from the
dined on "Gran misto di Pesce all griglia," a two-person dish of
mixed grilled fish, and a Venetian specialty; "Garganelli con
Melanzane, Pomodoro Fresco e Mozzarella," short pasta with eggplants,
fresh tomato and mozzarella. We drank a wonderful Pinot Grigio, a perfect
accompaniment to a dinner in the most romantic of settings.
its long history, the Danieli has changed hands many times; yet it
continues to be well preserved. Everything seemed to be in perfect
condition. "We work on the restoration of a few rooms every
year," Francesca told us. "Every winter we do major restoration
which is very difficult as the Danieli is protected by the local
restored atrium of the Dandolo Palace
|"About ten years ago, the hotel was completely
renovated," she added. "More recently, about four billion lira (about
two million dollars) were invested in a new sewage system to clean the
water that goes out from the Danieli to the Canal." "That
comes with the territory," said Claudio Staderini, who has been
manager of the Danieli for the past five years. "It is important to
preserve Venice. It belongs not only to Venetians but to people all
over the world. We have the responsibility to respect the city, its
history, to keep up with its restoration. It a treasure of the world."
warmed to his subject and unwittingly to the subject of our particular
visit. "The romantic life is the life of Venice," Claudio said,
"and the right place for romance is the Daniele. It is not just a
place for lovers, but a place for lovers to have a very intense and unique
passion. The word Daniele means passion. When you stay here, nobody can
guarantee what will be the result in the end. But something is going to be
changed - for the better in most of the cases. That is the legend of the
Venice, Italy I-30122
Laura Elizabeth Frommer
& Ian David Frommer
are food, wine and travel writers, from a family of famous writers, based
in the Washington DC area, . They love to share their passion for globe
trotting and fine dining with their readers. (More about these writers.)
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