As the 75th edition of the Italian fest nears, film biz insiders share off-the-beaten-path Venetian treasures — from Darren Aronofsky's go-to gelateria to the hippest nabe for winebar-hopping.
With Venezia playing host to cinema's luminaries for decades, industry pros are familiar with the floating city's most famous haunts — including legendary Harry's Bar (where the Bellini is said to have been invented) and the extravagant Cipriani hotel.
As the festival nears, film biz insiders share their more off-the-beaten-path Venetian treasures:
For Darren Aronofsky, whose mother! was unveiled at Venice last year, Nico is his go-to gelateria. "I first visited it when I was 18, backpacking around Europe, and I try to go every time I come back," he says. On the water facing Giudecca island, Nico is "a bit off the tourist trail, but Venice is all about getting lost." His recommendation: "Start with the special, the Gianduiotto with cherry sauce. It's a cup of nuts, whipped cream, cherry sauce and chocolate ice cream — you'll be back."
CAA agent Beth Swofford, a Venice habitue, says for "the most beautiful stationery in the world," go to Gianni Basso Stampatore in the Cannaregio district. "Their work is perfect: The paper, quality of their printing and the design itself is gorgeous." She recommends going to the shop in person to choose from hundreds of designs and papers. "I have been writing notes on their paper for many years now, so my clients may know it from reading my thank-you notes."
While the Cipriani, Danieli or Gritti Palace may top some industry lists for hotels, a favorite of producer Suzanne Warren (who last hit Venice for the 2016 premiere of Hacksaw Ridge) is the Quattro Fontane. "I love it because it is very original and authentic, with lovely detail that's built up over the years," she says. The old-school albergo is situated on the Lido, also the Venice fest's HQ. "It's convenient to stay on the Lido if you actually want to see movies, so you don't have to get the boat back and forth."
Venice native Matteo Perale, head of strategy and corporate development at CAA, says the Naranzaria area is the city's hippest place to go bacaro (wine-bar)-hopping. "It is an area by the Grand Canal with a swarm of little bacari where you drink and eat while standing." In the early evening — aperitivo time — ask for an ombra (a small glass of wine) and tuck into the cicchetti (think Venetian tapas) that usually come with your tipple.
Participant Media CEO David Linde has dined at his favorite Venice spot Da Celeste (on Pellestrina, the long skinny islet below the Lido) for years. "It's an authentic Italian gem, about an hour by boat from the Lido, with a simply spectacular view." The main fare there is seafood, served lagoon-side. "Last year, we had a lovely evening there with Ai WeiWei," adds Linde. "Really looking forward to returning this year."
This story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.