Sestiere Itinerary #2 Giudecca and San Giorgio

Giudecca fondly observes Venice, at oars length, across the Giudecca canal. A distance which has ensured that over time “Gnecca” has somewhat preserved its authenticity whilst making way for the contemporary, with a number of innovative venues, events and residents!

There is the second of the sestiere itineraries curated by My Art Guide for the Venice Biennale and Bea Vita – the Venetian good life – this time we are accompanying you along a tour of the islands of Giudecca and San Giorgio.

These routes, designed by our editorial staff, ensure you experience the best of contemporary art in Venice without missing a selection of bars and restaurants where you can refuel with delicious wine and Venetian delights.

Begin at the Palanca boat stop, 500 metres from here, located in old brewery, is the non-profit Venetian organisation Spazio Punch [1] – a space for art, fashion, publishing, architecture and contemporaneity that researches plans and organises exhibitions, cultural events and meetings. Currently on show is the exhibition “Nomadic Party”, as well as “Bookzilla”, a project founded in 2022, which endeavours to frame visual imaginaries and capture the urges of contemporary culture through an evolving collection of editorial projects.

Next door is Michela Rizzo Gallery [2] which is now hosting the third solo show by British artist Brian Eno: “Gibigiane”, recently honoured with the Leone d’Oro at La Biennale Musica.

The surrounding area is scattered with a number of artist studios, including those of the likes of Lucia Veronesi, Carolina Raquel Antich, Riccardo Muratori, Sophie Westerlind, Studio Distilleria, to name but a few.

Nearby is also the art space SPUMA which is currently hosting the exhibition H2O Venezia: Water Diaries [3].

Before or after your next stop, and if you are feeling particularly ostentatious, you could stop by the classic Harry’s Dolci [4].

In stark contrast and just behind Harry’s, is the only National Pavilion on the island of Giudecca, that of the Holy See [5]. The exhibition organised by the Vatican is ingeniously situated in the Women’s Prison where works by the likes of Maurizio Cattelan, Bintou Dembélé, Simone Fattal and Claire Fontaine are exhibited and visitors are guided through by the inmates. This initiative allows the women in the prison to interact with the spaces they experience on a daily basis through artistic interventions. Due to the nature of the context, it is necessary to book online, well in advance.

Towards the end of August the cultural festival Cinema Galleggiante [6] (now in its fourth year) takes place in the waters behind the island of Giudecca. A floating stage and screen is visible from ones own boat or from a floating platform, the programme boasts a multitude of screenings and performances by international and local authors over a period of 15 days.

Returning to the waterfront facing Venice, where you initially alighted from the vaporetto is La Palanca [7], a cosy bar-trattoria with typical local cuisine and – again – a splendid view – the most redundant but perhaps most pleasant aspect of Giudecca. The kitchen is open for lunch, while in the evening the bar offers aperitifs, spritz and lots of company.

Alternatively, just three minutes away you will find La Trattoria Altanella [8]. Its history began in 1889 when it opened on Calle de le Erbe, named after its picturesque terrace-garden on the canal has forever been characterised by a passion for tradition, food and hospitality. On the waterfront just before you get to Ponte Lungo is Rupture [9], a bookstore in motion, which provides a precise and valuable selection of volumes. It mixes novelties and rediscoveries, books and fine art in a singular and refined setting.

Over the bridge and further along Fondamenta S. Giacomo, make sure to have a nose around Cantiere Crea, a typically Venetian dockyard and home to CREA Cantieri del Contemporaneo – which hosts various exhibition throughout the year. Here you can also find some hidden away yet spectacular artist studios – particularly that of Danial Spivakov.

Just opposite the Redentore vaporetto stop you will find the newly opened Ncontemporary | Alessandro Casciaro [10], a shared exhibition space where the two galleries alternate exhibitions, to create a new meeting place for collectors, artists and art professionals in addition to their respective existing locations in Milan and Bolzano, to give further continuity and depth to their artistic programmes.

The last destination at the far end of the Island, before hopping on the number 2 for one stop from Zitelle and moving to San Giorgio, is the Casa dei Tre Oci [11], recently acquired by the Berggruen Institute. Designed as a private home and studio by artist Mario De Maria, the neo-Gothic Tre Oci has a long history of hosting artists and intellectuals and as a venue for cultural meetings and debates. It currently hosts the exhibition “Elective Affinities”, realised in collaboration with the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

Once on the Island of San Giorgio, you will find yourself in front of the Abbazia of San Giorgio Maggiore, whose splendid architecture designed by Andrea Palladio hosts one of the best exhibitions of this Biennale, in poignant dialogue with the spaces of the basilica.
The collateral event “Berlinde De Bruyckere: “City of Refuge III” [12]  offers an exploration of juxtapositions and dialogues within sacred spaces. The Basilica hosts a striking installation of veiled archangels, blurring the boundaries between the earthly and the heavenly.

Surrounding the Basilica are the various spaces of the Giorgio Cini Foundation [13] based in the monumental complex of the former Benedictine monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, known for its Palladian cloister, the Longhena library and the Teatro Verde.

In the Sala Carnelutti “Clair, Glass and Water” [14] is an exhibition of new works by American artist Alex Katz, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero. The exhibition follows the artist’s recent retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York and presents three large groups of works created between 2021 and 2022 that represent three key aspects of his practice.

In the Piscina Gandini now used as an exhibition and event space the retrospective exhibition “In Nebula” [15], curated by Matthieu Poirier, presents the works of Chu Teh-Chun (1920-2014). The set design, inspired by Chu’s pictorial nebula, is intended to offer a new perspective on his work, overcoming East-West dualism to appreciate the exceptional aesthetic singularity of his universe, rich in historical resonances.

In addition, throughout September the spaces of the Giorgio Cini Foundation will host “Homo Faber” [16], a celebration of contemporary craftsmanship: inspiring objects made by talented artisans create a global experience. The programme of the event encourages a new way of visiting the city with a series of craft addresses throughout Venice, an exceptional setting, live craft demonstrations and unique experiences, from culinary to special tours.

Located in the west wing of the former Convitto on the Island, Le Stanze del Vetro [17], a center that hosts exhibitions as well as conferences, workshops and other events dedicated to glass.
Currently at the center one can visit the exhibition “1912-1930 Murano Glass and the Venice Biennale”, curated by Marino Barovier, which presents 135 rare works on loan from important museums and private collections.

At the nearby Stanze della Fotografia, two exhibitions “Out of focus” by Patrick Mimran; and “Legacy”  by Helmut Newton, the most comprehensive exhibition of one of the most loved and discussed photographers of all time. With over 250 photographs. Polaroids and archive documents, the exhibition traces through the decades the immense legacy left by Newton, an artist who always lived up to his ill-famed reputation.

If you are still not tired or just want to add some stops to our itinerary, don’t forget to download My Art Guide Venice’s App: the comprehensive collection of all the national pavilions, collateral events and the best concurrent exhibitions at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

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