Last Updated on June 28, 2024

Thanks (or no thanks), to a series of flight delays, I arrived in a water taxi at the edge of the Castello area of Venice late on a Saturday night. Due to high tides, the taxi could venture no further into the narrow inner Venice canals. The walk to my hotel with luggage in tow would be about a mile long. It was 10:45 pm, and the streets were largely deserted.

Excited to journey into Venice to cover an innovative digital art exhibit at the Venice Biennale, I navigated the cobblestones and over several pedestrian bridges until I crossed one last footbridge, almost ready to sit down on the stairs. I turned the corner and, with welcome eyes, saw the sign for the 3-star boutique hotel Locanda Ca’ del Console.

Using details the owner had sent for entry, I pushed open the large, heavy, wooden door and walked along the passageway, straight ahead as she had instructed. I arrived in a lobby with walls of exposed brick and plaster. The room’s decor had an attractive vintage flair and an archway opened directly onto the moonlit canal.

I was instantly smitten.

Venice Hotel on a Canal

I slipped the key into a glass interior door and stepped into Locanda’s inner lobby, another warm space richly adorned with gold and deep, colorful hues. I found my room around a corner and down a short hallway in a renovated section of the property and was thankful for a good night’s rest.

My queen room was smallish, but very comfortable. It had a mini-fridge, strong Wi-Fi, and everything I needed for my stay.

There was also plenty of public space to relax in—a large, open courtyard offered metal chairs and tables as well as couches to lounge on.

The entry lobby was just as charming as the night before when I arrived. Sitting at a tea table with a cappuccino, looking out at the canal, a banana plant framing the archway, I felt like I was in a postcard scene. The atmosphere was utterly calm as water taxis and gondolas glided by, dropping passengers and goods at various destinations along the waterway.

The Austrian Consul’s Home

Outer Lobby Locanda Ca' del Console Venice
Outer Lobby Locanda Ca’ del Console Venice © Hennessey 2024

As its name indicates, the Locanda Ca’ del Console is the former home of a Console—a Consul, in this case, the Austrian Consul (although at some point in time, the logs mention a Dutch Counsul as well).

Ca’ means house and the building itself dates back to the 16th century. At the time, Canal Santa Marina was a famous and highly sought-after canal upon which to be located. The French Consulate remains nearby.

The ground floor was commercial space, and goods were exchanged in the largest central room, the portego (where the lobby is today). Goods arrived by boat for storage off of the main room.

The first floor was the Console’s living space, with one large room at the center which functioned as the ballroom for parties. The side rooms were the main chambers, and the third and fourth floors were the servants’ quarters. Now, they are guestrooms, and the ballroom is an open space.

The private courtyard on the ground floor is iconic Venetian and features a central well. The yard itself is made of sand and charcoal, which filters rainwater as it collects on the ground and channels it to the well. Venice is surrounded by salt water, and its ancient residents were moved to find unique solutions to harvest freshwater for drinking and daily life.

A Family Legacy

1st Floor Guestroom Locanda Ca' del Console Venice
1st Floor Guestroom Locanda Ca’ del Console Venice © Hennessey 2024

Since the 1940s, the 1st floor of this abode was home to the grandparents of Locanda Ca’ del Console’s owner, Caterina. Her mother, Marina, started the hotel with seven rooms in 2000 as a gift from her father, Giuseppe, who had a construction company and had completed a deep structural renovation of the building.

Giuseppe Scarpa was the nephew of Carlo Scarpa, one of Venice’s and Italy’s most renowned architects. Giuseppe apprenticed in his uncle’s workshop and learned to do structural renovations—a massive need and business opportunity in Venice that made for a long career.   

Giuseppe did a structural renovation of Locanda’s building, repairing the façade that was starting to collapse towards the canal, adding weight-bearing beams and making it structurally sound. Now, the hotel has 20 guestrooms, with plans to add an elevator and a sizeable bar.

The hotel started as a small B&B. It was difficult to find and the ground floor was rough. When guests went upstairs, however, Marina was there waiting to warmly welcome them; over time, word spread. She retired in 2018.

Caterina wants to continue renovating and upgrading the hotel, preparing for her son Alvise to take over one day. The outer and inner lobbies are lushly decorated in an Italian vintage style with gold-painted candlesticks, mirrors and artwork. She’s slowly installing a large bar in one of the old storerooms.

Alvise is going into building engineering to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Movie and Music Video Set

The only building in Venice surrounded on three sides by water is located at one end of the Santa Maria Canal. Movies love to use the area and the Santa Marina Canal as locations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Mission Impossible and Tom Cruise filmed on location and used Locanda Ca’ del Console as a set. With the earnings, Caterina renovated the building’s canal facade.

Across the River and Into the Trees, an Ernest Hemingway adaptation directed by Paula Ortiz and starring Liev Schreiber and Danny Huston set in post-World War II Venice, was also filmed here.

UK pop singer Bradley Simpson recently shot a music video here as well.

Eat With the Locals in Venice

Pizza Forte at 6342 Spaghetteria Venice
Pizza Forte at 6342 Spaghetteria Venice © Hennessey 2024

The traditional Venetian Trattoria Storica restaurant dates from the mid-1800s and sits in a characteristic neighborhood on a quiet corner out towards the lagoon. On a pleasant afternoon, residents were packing their flowerbox-lined patios.

I ordered the Daily Special of risotto with asparagus and shrimp for €15. The size was ideal, the risotto wonderfully prepared and tasty and I accompanied the meal with a ubiquitous Aperol Spritz. The menu here is simple and filled with centuries-old recipes at modest prices.

Find Spaghetteria Ristorante Alla Corte just across the footbridge from Locanda Ca’del Console as you exit to the right. I immediately noticed the warm ambiance radiating out, so I stopped to inspect the menu.

The roast duck tagliatelle was delectable and filled with rich and savory flavors. Every day, their chefs prepare fresh pasta, and in another delightful twist, they employ a live DJ to serenade your supper with popular pop and rock tunes.

I don’t know if restaurant DJs are common throughout Italy, but they are certainly in Venice! It’s fun, and guests join in dancing at the end of the evening.

6342 Spaghetteria and Pizzeria A Le Tole is a cute rectangular eatery with the same owners as Spaghetteria Ristorante Alla Corte. It is lined with white subway tiles and dotted with small tables. Service here is excellent.

I sampled a Colli Impervi Valdobbiadene Prosecco from the Famiglia Balan, which was light and dry with a note of pear and a natural fizz.

The pasta and pizzas are housemade daily in an open kitchen. I ordered a Venetian-style pizza, a Forte on a thin crust with eggplant, mozzarella and spicy salami for dinner that was amazing.

Afterward, I couldn’t pass up a gorgeous, aged grappa served in a heated balloon glass. It was complex, smooth and dangerously strong.

Australian writer Kate Forsyth once said, “It seemed like a magical city, floating on the lagoon as if conjured by an enchanter’s wand.”

This was exactly the magic I found on my trip to Venice. I can’t wait to visit again.

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