T+L A-List advisor Andrea Grisdale takes a tour of the city.

By Andrea Grisdale
November 18, 2019
Andrea Grisdale

When I heard that Mayor Luigi Brugnaro declared a state of emergency after the historic high tides in Venice last week, my first reaction was, “I have to get there right away!” As a travel advisor, being able to see the situation on the ground firsthand would enable me to give our travelers an honest update. And after an eye-opening tour of the waterlogged city, I can say with certainty: the flooding is no reason to cancel your travel plans to Venice.

In the days after the floods, my tour company, IC Bellagio, started reaching out to our Venetian friends, and got in touch with one of our favorite hoteliers, Alain Bullo, GM of the Hotel Londra Palace. This Relais and Chateaux property is strategically located on Riva degli Schiavoni, just a stone’s throw from St Marks Square, the celebrated Bridge of Sighs, and the iconic Hotel Danieli. Londra Palace was our home base for a few days as we surveyed the city.

Upon our arrival in Venice, our captain took us on a gentle cruise through the minor canals to the Grand Canal, passing the Rialto Bridge, the Accademia Bridge, and the Guggenheim museum. Even then, it was clear to me that many of the city’s famous landmarks were standing tall and looking as majestic as ever. We arrived at the Londra Palace to a warm welcome from their head barman, Marino, who kindly offered us each a pair of fisherman’s waders to wear so that we were as comfortable as possible as we explored Venice.

Andrea Grisdale

Our time on “terra firma” began with a coffee at Londra Palace, which made the difficult decision to close its doors until the November 28th after the water kept rising last Tuesday. That way, they could repair some of the damage done in the lobby and bar area, and make sure everything could be perfect for guests during the Christmas season. We then headed out to explore the city with the hotel’s GM as our guide.

After wandering about for about an hour and chatting with many of the locals, I asked everyone to stop in a beautiful square so I could share with them how moved I had been by our short time in Venice. The resilience of the local population – from hoteliers and shopkeepers to florists, barkeepers, and restaurateurs – was absolutely inspiring. Everyone was smiling, no one was complaining, and they all had one goal in mind: to work together as quickly as they could to get Venice back to normal and provide the best possible service to their visitors. Never once did we hear a negative comment and never once did we find ourselves in an area of Venice that we would not be proud to share with our travelers.

Related: Our Travel Guide to Venice

Another thing that struck us were the stories about the young people of Venice. Today’s millennials get a bad rap as people who wouldn’t bother to volunteer for charitable causes or are too busy on their phones to make a difference in their communities. In Venice, nothing could be further from the truth. The efforts of Venice’s young people are truly commendable. There was no doubt in our minds that they were all eager to do their bit to help.

Andrea Grisdale

Of course, we could be discussing whether the Mose flood barriers will save the day, about this being only the sixth time in history that the Basilica has flooded, or about how some hotels were forced to relocate their guests to other areas of the city. But what I’d much prefer to highlight is the sense of unity we witnessed recently, and the awe-inspiring resilience of Venice and the Venetians. For these folks, “acqua alta,” or high water, is a simple fact of life that they experience year in and year out. Last week, when it became clear that it was much more than that, the Venetians responded by rolling up their sleeves, coming together as a community, and ensuring that the Venice we know and love is back on track and open for business.

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