It’s no secret that celebrities like Elton John, George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson have got a certain yen for Venice – and why shouldn’t they? After all, Venice has a flamboyance that pairs nicely with their own, which makes it a little surprising that Lady Gaga has not spent too much time (that we know of, anyway) in the northern city of canals, culture and intrigue. And all the more because of her Italian roots. We have no doubt that a future tour or trip will correct this obvious omission, but in the meantime, because we have a yen for fabulous Venice too, we’ve compiled a mini-itinerary inspired by Lady Gaga. Where would she go in Venice? What would she do? So many possibilities, but let’s start with food, because any performer, no matter how pressed for time, sometimes needs to slow down and chow down.
Gaga for Venice’s Restaurants
Anyone who loves the spotlight – and Lady Gaga, that means you – is going to want to try a restaurant where the setting is posh and the food is great. Linea d’Ombra is prime seafood and prime people-watching territory. Tuck into the likes of baccalà mantecato or any number of homemade pasta dishes with fresh seafood and vegetables. Great wines, desserts and of course, views from the “floating” terrace add to the appeal. It’s at Dorsoduro, 19.
Also in the Dorsoduro district, there’s Locanda Montin, which was a favorite of Peggy Guggenheim and more recently, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Paloma Picasso and David Bowie have dined here. Enjoy its art gallery and specialties like spaghetti Adriatica. Let’s not forget that Gaga is a native New Yorker, and that means despite her extravagant tastes she also loves a good bargain, and that’s exactly what everyone will find at Taverna del Campiello Remer. When it comes to dining in Venice a general rule of thumb is that if you see gondoliers eating in a restaurant (look for the black-and-white striped shirts, always in fashion!), it’s a good address. Such is the regular occurrence at this atmospheric spot right by the Grand Canal in the Cannareggio sestiere (district). The all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is one of the best deals in Venice. The cicchetti (Venetian antipasti) vary but all is fresh and timelessly tempting. Tel. 011-39-415228789
Strolls and Shops Fit for a Rock Star
Lady Gaga is a woman of the world, but like anyone might appreciate a little guidance in Venice, a city so dense with history and canals and palaces that it can be hard knowing where to start – actually, a stroll with the experts is a pretty good place to start. Select Italy offers thematic visits: A House of Gold and a Church of Stone: The Ca’ d’Oro & Santa Maria dei Miracoli; Venetian Renaissance After the Plague and Venice for Children: Belltowers, Gondola Makers & Sailing Ships are just three of our many guided half-day and full-day Venice tours that we offer.
Speaking of walking – and you’ll be doing a lot of it in this city with nary a car — did you know what some of Gaga’s famously heel-free footwear has Venetian roots? It’s true. Take a look at some of her publicity photos and you could trace a direct line back to 15th-century Venice, when the chopine was all the rage in ladies’ footwear. Yes, even then, the heels on these babies could exceed 18 inches. First favored by prostitutes, the style soon became popular among in Venetian high society – call the paparazzi! You might not find chopines in many stores in Venice today, but you if you want to trick out your own home like a Doge’s palace, head to the Fortuny Factory & Showroom, the famous fabric emporium and showroom on the Giudecca. The Fortuny tradition goes back to 1871 and the sumptuous designs, colors and textures are the stuff of decorating legend. You’ll find sumptuous pillows, lamps, accessories and more. All gaga-liciously luxurious and oh-so Venetian.
Of course, she wouldn’t be Lady Gaga without a detour to an authentic Venetian mask shop. We suggest Laboratorio Artigiano Maschere, where the art of disguise manifests itself with numerous extravagant styles and shapes of Venetian carnival masks. Go with basic black, or go wild with a rainbow of exotic colors and textures. The mask workshop is located at Barbaria delle Tole in the Castello district, tel. 011-39-5223110.
Venice’s Cultural Gold
Lady Gaga’s life is like an opera – something for her or anyone to contemplate at La Fenice, Venice’s jewel box of an opera house and an excellent place to experience real Venetian theatricality. True to its name, the opera house has burned down a few times: in 1774, when it was called something else, in 1836 and yet again in 1996. But it was gorgeously rebuilt and reopened in 2003. You can take a guided visit for 8 euros, or for maximum effect buy a ticket to a performance. Find it at Campo San Fantin in the San Marco district.
No one would dare call Lady Gaga superficial, especially not after she has taken up an anti-bullying crusade as her cause. That’s why she would doubly appreciate a tour of Venice’s old Jewish ghetto. It may have been prejudice that led to its creation in 1516, all the way until 1797, but the legacy is quite striking: there are two are Ashkenazi and one Sephardic synagogue to see; all are richly adorned because in Venice, flamboyant is always the operative word.
Like any seasoned traveler, Lady Gaga would doubtless want to mix the old with the new, just like they do it at the Punta della Dogana. This former Venetian customs house on the triangular wedge of land across from Piazza San Marco and San Giorgio Island opened in 2009 as a rather brash center for contemporary art. The exceptional site is home to exhibitions from the permanent collection of François Pinault. Inside, 17th-century seriousness meets post-industrial chic, thanks to Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s bold use of concrete to reorient the layout and original wood beams now punctuated in places by skylights.
One thing we’re still debating is where Lady Gaga should stay on her next trip to Venice. Any suggestions?